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Tax hounds to chase high-spending card holders
July, 19th 2006
The income-tax (I-T) department is hot on the trail of credit card holders who have gone on a shopping binge.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes has asked banks to provide the PAN numbers of credit card holders. The decision to seek this data from banks follows an analysis of the data on annual information returns.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has now stepped up its efforts to track credit card holders who have run up bills aggregating to over Rs 2 lakh, but failed to furnish their permanent account numbers (PAN). It has told banks to provide the PAN numbers of credit card holders. The decision to seek this data from banks follows an analysis of the data on annual information returns (AIR).

The analysis showed that the highest number of cases where PAN was not being quoted related to credit card transactions. Several banks issue a range of credit cards, besides debit and pre-paid cards, for instance, for overseas travel. This client base is growing, as also the card spends, and the tax department now wants to keep track to ascertain whether the high levels of expenditure incurred match with the income reported by card holders. The number of such card holders is reckoned to be 20m.

The CBDT has told banks to provide PAN numbers of credit card holders since many of the banks are also credit card issuers, said a top government official. AIRs are being filed by third parties such as banks, credit card companies and the registrar of immovable property listing out high-value transactions of their clients.

Credit card companies provide a list of customers who run up yearly aggregate bills of over Rs 2 lakh. Similarly, banks are furnishing a list of customers who have cash deposits of over Rs 10 lakh in their savings account. The NSDL, which hosts the Tax Information Network (TIN), digitises this data. A PAN-based individual ledger account is being created based on the information collected through AIR. The investments or expenses are matched with the tax returns of the individual to see if he has short-changed the exchequer or evaded taxes. The information collated through the AIR is being made available online to the assessing officer (AO).

Seven authorities are now filing these returns. The first set of AIR was filed last fiscal on high-value transactions during 04-05. There were 18 lakh pieces of transactions valued at over Rs 13 lakh crore. However, PAN was not quoted in nearly 60% of the transactions. The department has already sent notices to those who have not quoted their PAN numbers.
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