Alarmed by the initial findings of its departmental inquiry, the income-tax (I-T ) department has moved the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) to probe the tax return scam. The hand of several I-T officials working in tandem with some rogue tax agents is suspected in the scam to siphon off refunds. Sources say that the scam could now easily be worth a few crores although initial estimates pegged it at Rs 75 lakh. The scam was restricted to about half-a-dozen IT ranges in AP.
Sources said that even as the chief commissioner incharge in Hyderabad has moved his bosses in the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in Delhi to request the CBI director to speedily investigate the case, the matter has simultaneously been discussed with the CBI officials in Hyderabad.
Initially, the scam was attributed to the machinations of private data entry operators who had been hired by the department in processing the huge volume of I-T returns that the regular staff was unable to process due to staff shortage.
It seems that a couple of agents were the kingpins while data operators executed the plan. All this happened under the eyes of tax officials, said a source. Insiders also apprehend that the gang could be part of a nation-wide racket . The suspicion has arisen as similar incidents were reported from Mumbai involving an amount of Rs 20 crore. Interestingly, all the data entry operators to whom work was outsourced were engaged by the department only after being recommended by I-T staff.