Raids on entry operators reveal new list of possible tax evaders
July, 08th 2016
The income tax department has prepared an integrated databank of suspected black money holders across the country who have taken the help of 'entry operators' to launder large amounts of unaccounted cash through banking channels over the past few years.
These entry operators are chartered accountants or middlemen who launder money on behalf of clients by operating multiple bank accounts. These intermediaries provide cheques to beneficiaries to convert unaccounted cash into legal tender. This is done against cash deposits in the accounts of operators who later raise bogus bills for a commission of 1-2%.
The new databank is based on information gathered from entry operators who were raided by I-T units in the past two years, an officer engaged in the exercise said. The data has provided I-T officials with the names of thousands of suspected tax evaders and companies who could be involved in black money transactions.
The data has been compiled into a list — along with information from other sources, including property registration, suspicious banking transactions and foreign bank accounts — and identified as per PAN and area of residence of the suspected tax evaders. A countrywide identification drive of tax evaders who used entry operators has been launched involving around 800-1,000 supervisory officers of the rank of commissioners and above to force disclosures of black money under the Income Declaration Scheme launched by the Centre on June 1. The four-month window is available till September 30.
The responsibility of knocking on the doors of individual 'beneficiaries' of entry operators has been assigned to 300-odd principal commissioner level officers who in turn have formed a team of joint commissioners, assistant commissioners and income tax officers (ITO) to execute the task. A principal commissioner or commissioner-level officer, who will supervise these teams and report to a principal chief commissioner, has been asked to contact at least 100 such beneficiaries who used the entry operator route. The exercise is being overseen at the highest level in the finance ministry where revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia is coordinating with principal chief commissioners and commissioners through video-conferencing every Saturday. Already, two such review meetings have been held.
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Simultaneously, the I-T department has approached major industry associations to 'educate' their members on the need to come clean as any failure would later result in the defaulter being prosecuted and possibly sent behind bars under the draconian black money law and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The finance ministry has given complete freedom to the tax department to extensively advertise the scheme on all media platforms in a bid to encourage declarations. The 'commissioners appeal' — the tax appellate authorities — in Delhi, Mumbai and all other major metropolitan cities have been asked to contact individual chartered accountants who have been representing clients before the I-T department to encourage businessmen to declare unaccounted money.