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I-T's data power to fight evasion better
July, 04th 2006
The Income Tax department is working out modalities to mine the load of financial information being gathered through third-party sources to clamp down better on tax evasion. The I-T chief commissioners and director generals conference scheduled to be inaugurated by finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday is expected to deliberate on ways to use the data culled from car companies, credit card providers and banks to enhance revenue collection.

The annual information report (AIR) format developed by the I-T department has now generated huge data flow on high-value transactions. But due to lack of manpower and the inability to efficiently use this information, the department has not been able to harness the information bank completely.

Tomorrows conference would also look at measures to intensify scrutiny. This is part of the exercise to identify new strategies to enhance tax collection and expanding tax base, central board of direct taxes chairman MH Kherawala said. She said the conference would also discuss measures needed to unlock the huge amounts lying in the form of tax arrears as well as focus on deepening the computerisation programme of the department.

There has been a 15% growth on the number of new assessees compared to last year. About 2.64 crore income tax assessees had filed returns in the previous year, Ms Kherawala told reporters, adding that the government expected the number to go up with its two-pronged strategy.

She pointed out that as per the new I-T rules, all the partnership firms are required to file returns irrespective of their level of profit or loss. It has also been mandatory for all those who get income beyond threshold limit of Rs 1 lakh per annum for men, Rs 1.35 lakh for women and Rs 1.85 lakh for senior citizens to file income tax returns.

For the convenience of small income tax payer, the government has set up 321 Help Centres across the country for filing tax returns which will render free-of-cost service. She clarified that the exercise is not a revenue-generating one.

There would be at least one Help Centre under every direct tax commissionerate and the centres are set up outside I-T offices, chambers of commerce and chartered accountants offices. These centres have stared functioning from June 15. The facility will be available till August 15 and would again get operational in March 1-31. The Help Centres were first started last year. The last date for filing return is July 31.
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