Seeking to get tough with tax evaders, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said all parties whose transactions like purchase and sale of property, expenditure on credit cards, mutual funds have been reported in the Annual Information returns (AIR) should file their tax returns.
I have asked the department to pursue every single person whose transaction has been reported in the AIR. My advice is that all such parties should file their returns by July 31, if they have not already done so, Chidambaram told reporters after addressing the annual meeting of Chief Commissioners and Director General of Income tax here.
Chidambaram said the income tax department had been asked to work on a four-fold strategy - identify the persons whose transaction has been reported in the AIR, find their Permanent Account Number, check their tax returns and finally check if the transaction in the AIR has been reflected in their return.
Though the department had issued letters to parties whose transactions had been reported under AIR, around 60-65 per cent had not even replied to them. Officials said it was decided that all such cases would be sent to the Chief Commissioners who would in turn get field enquiries conducted.
Chidambaram said that the department had so far captured a total of 17,52,652 transactions involving 6,60,000 separate parties. Of this, 1,84,980 parties had quoted their PAN while 4,75,019 parties did not quote their PAN. The value of these transactions is Rs 13,50,000 crore.
Chidambaram said the tax department would wait before including more transactions under AIR. Let us wait for some time. We must deal with the huge information that we already have first, he said. The AIR presently captures seven transactions.
He also said that all the 23 lakh duplicate Permanent Account Number cards would be removed from the system by December 31, 2006. Reforms of the PAN is also underway and that the department is considering introduction of biometric or smart cards so that they are fool proof and no person is able to obtain multiple cards, he said.
These biometric cards would cost Rs 200-300 per card against Rs 60 at present.
Chidambaram said a media campaign would also be launched soon to encourage persons with duplicate PANs to voluntarily surrender their duplicates. Of the 4.6 crore PANs issued around 2.12 crore file their returns.
The meeting also discussed the issue of Tax Deducted at Source. There was a suggestion that the department should undertake a media campaign as several government departments were not even aware that they had to deduct TDS.
Asked about the shortage of manpower, Chidambaram said that against a shortage of 10,000 personnel, the cabinet had given a one-time sanction for 3,300 posts.
Despite this not a single post has been filled so far since we have to approach the surplus cell and then go through the staff selection committee. I am trying to bypass this procedure and get clearance faster, he said.
The minister admitted that the computerisation programme of the department was running behind schedule. We have now asked an outside expert - Dr Rajnish Das of IIM Ahmedabad to give us feedback on a fool proof system, he said.
Chidambaram said the draft of the new Income Tax Act would be ready in July. I have given the committee time until July 15 to prepare the draft. We will then examine it and seek the inputs of the law department, he said while ruling out the possibility of the new bill being tabled in the monsoon session.
Asked if the department had fixed a target for BCTT (Banking Cash Transaction Tax) collection, he said, I would be the happiest person if the BCTT collection comes down to zero. I do not want people to use cash transactions, he said.
In response to a query about the draft guildelines to identify a trader or an investor, he said that the department had decided to approach the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to give their feedback on the matter.
The minister also said that the department had finalised an arrear collection target of Rs 11,000 crore for the current fiscal which is higher than the Rs 10,000 crore internal target fixed last year.