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I-T likely to raise data-sharing , MFs on high-value deals
August, 07th 2006
Banks, mutual funds, credit card companies and stock brokers may be spared from giving information on low-value transactions of their clients to tax authorities. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is reviewing the threshold set for assessing officers to call for information from these agencies on transactions of their clients, said a senior official. The income tax law empowers tax authorities to source information from different agencies such as banks, mutual funds, credit card companies if they need it for any inquiry or proceedings. This source of gathering information is independent of the details collected from these very agencies through the annual information returns (AIR). For instance, banks can be asked to provide details of their customers with cash deposits of over Rs 1 lakh. Credit card companies can be directed to furnish details about anyone who holds a card, irrespective of the value of purchases. Mutual funds have to give names and addresses of those who invest over Rs 1 lakh, when called for. This information is collected and collated by the central information branch (CIB) which functions under the investigation wing of the income tax department. The CIB has a separate code for each transaction there are around 36 CIB codes and value limits have been set for many transactions. A review of the existing limits is underway as some are reckoned to be low. The idea is to ensure better mining of such information to do good quality investigation. Take the case of banks. Banks are filing AIR listing out clients with cash deposits of over Rs 10 lakh a year in their savings account. They also have to provide details of clients with cash deposits of over Rs 1 lakh, if called for by tax authorities. This increases the work-load for banks and tax authorities. The problem can be tackled in two ways hike the present limit of Rs 1 lakh or do away with the requirement. The CIB also collects information on those who have been allotted shares and debentures over Rs 1 crore. The income tax law places the onus on the dealer, broker, agent or any person concerned with the management of a stock or commodity exchange to provide information on the deals of their clients, when called for. According to senior officials, data furnished to the CIB is in an unstructured form. Some are of the view that it also provides discretion to tax authorities to send notices. This is unlike the AIR where the information flow is structured. In a modern tax administration system, AIR should be the main tool for capturing information on the assessee and matching it with his tax return, said a senior tax official.
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