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New Income Tax criminal probe wing to toe US model
July, 18th 2011

The newly created directorate of criminal investigation (DCI) in the income tax (I-T) department is to adopt the functioning and strategies of its American countyerpart, the criminal investigation wing of that countrys Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

A group of senior income tax officials would visit the US soon to study the IRS framework and practices in this regard. We would study the IRS model and accordingly create a system which will suit the Indian context. We will concretise it and present it before CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) for approval, said a senior I-T department official.

He added that DCIs primary role would be to handle cases involving money generated through illegal means such as bribery, smuggling, narcotics and terror funding.

The stakes are very high in these cases. The US IRS criminal investigation (wing) has been very successful in handling these cases. Our idea here is to create a specialised agency (DCI) to tackle illegally acquired money, in coordination with other agencies, including the police and enforcement directorate, said the official.

He said for cases involving unaccounted income emanating legally but on which tax had not been paid, the departments normal machinery would be utilised, without DCI venturing into this area.

DCI will, as mentioned earlier, focus on those cases where criminality is involved. It can operate under the existing framework, as no change is required in the I-T Act to make DCI functional. We have the structure and will put in place a functioning model very quickly, so that the real work begins fast, said the official.

The IRS criminal investigation enforcement strategy is to focus on delivering high-impact, high-quality investigations by committing substantial resources to core mission tax investigations and working closely with operating divisions to develop and investigate significant tax cases.

DCI has been given the mandate to seek and collect information about persons and transactions suspected to be involved in criminal activities having cross-border, inter-state or international ramifications, posing a threat to national security and punishable under the direct tax laws. It will also investigate the source and use of funds involved in such criminal activities and has been given powers to file prosecution complaints in the competent courts under any direct tax law relating to a criminal activity.

It can also enter into agreements for sharing of information and other cooperation with any central or state agency in India. And, into agreements for sharing of information and other cooperation with agencies of other countries permissible under any international agreement or treaty.

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