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Big co-op depositors on I-T radar
July, 19th 2006
The tax department is gradually tightening the noose on cooperative bodies. After bringing profit-making cooperative banks under the income tax ambit, the Central Board of Direct Taxes is now vetting a proposal to make it mandatory for all of them to furnish the list of depositors with cash deposits aggregating over Rs two lakh in their savings bank account and time deposits.

As of now, scheduled banks provide the list of depositors with cash deposits of Rs 10 lakh or more in their savings bank account in a financial year. Some of the big cooperative banks such as Saraswat Bank, Cosmos Bank figure in the list of scheduled banks.

This information on depositors is being furnished through the annual information returns (AIR) filed by third parties, including banks. Tax officials are matching such high-value investments made by individuals with their income tax returns to check if they are paying less or evading taxes.

Revenue authorities now want to widen the AIR net and make it mandatory for all cooperative banks to provide the list of those having cash deposits above Rs 2 lakh in their savings banks. The recommendation has been made by a high-level committee on restructuring the role and functions of the Central Information Branch (CIB), chaired by SK Sharma, chief commissioner, Income Tax (Pune).

The panel is also for expanding the AIR basket to cover time deposits of over Rs two lakh in cooperative banks. It is widely perceived that a huge amount of money is being laundered through the cooperative banking channel. The move to collect information on depositors having savings deposits above a certain threshold in cooperative banks is intended to curb money laundering, if any, said Mr Sharma.
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