The demand for real estate units might be at its lowest since 2009, but for tax sleuths the sector remains at the top when it comes to unveiling unaccounted income. In the last two months, income tax department has searched and surveyed more than 50 realty firms in the state, highest in Ahmedabad and Surat. The operations against realty firms make more than 70 per cent of I-T raid operations in the state.
On Tuesday, a team of 100 I-T officials swooped down on 31 premises of Kalol-based BT Corporation and its associates in Ahmedabad. In the operation, around 15 premises, including that of a Thaltej-based property broker linked with the company, were searched and surveyed. Similar operations were initiated against a Valsad-based realty group.
I-T officials believe that they suspect many realty firms, who have done impressive business between 2008 and 2011 in the state, have shied away from paying taxes on income. Sources said that the department has been sitting on around 6,000 suspected land and property transactions this year in the state which they believe will be crucial for cracking down on the realty groups in the coming days. However, unlike last year when the department unearthed stashes of black money from cupboards of realtors, this year, tax sleuths have not been that lucky.
"More than the amount of disclosures, the emphasis is on setting up a deterrent for tax evaders with the operation. But few of the biggest black money disclosures in the country this year have been from real estate companies in Surat," said a senior I-T official. But sources suggest that many realty firms, including in Ahmedabad, initially refused to make voluntary disclosures and made the tax sleuths run the extra mile for unearthing unaccounted income. In a couple of cases, tax sleuths had to catch buyers to expose the cash component taken by the realtor while selling off properties. I-T investigation wing of Gujarat has a target of Rs 1,100 crore for the current fiscal. However, due to administrative reasons which checked transfers of officials, the department did only a handful of operations. before September 15.