The income tax department is preparing to make public the names of defaulters who have crores of tax demands pending against them. The defaulters include builders, exporters, IT entrepreneurs and stockbrokers. They have been labeled 'chronic defaulters' because even strenuous attempts to recover tax arrears from them have yielded nothing.
The Gujarat I-T department is collecting details of around 80 such individuals and companies. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had in June announced the establishment of a committee under the Union finance ministry to recover tax arrears, which have gone up to more than Rs 2.50 lakh crore. That is almost 50% of the total direct tax collection target for 2011-12.
The CBDT had sent Gujarat a list of chronic defaulters which include assesses not traceable or those who do not have assets to clear their dues. For instance, said an I-T official, the Gujarat list has Vishal Export Overseas Limited which has to pay Rs 76 crore in tax arrears, but the company has to return crores in bank loans and doesn't have assets.
The income tax department is trying to recover dues by using information on assets of these defaulters - available with the finance intelligence unit - and scanning details from the annual information report. The list of defaulters is matched with the available asset data. Once all details are collected, I-T officials will send the complete profile of defaulters to the committee which will examine the possibility of engaging outside agencies to locate non-traceable assessees or their assets. Unknown or undisclosed assets owned by the assessees will also be probed.
"Once the consolidated list is declared, defaulters' names may be made public and uploaded on income tax department's website," said a senior income tax official. "The CBDT may also announce a reward for those who provide critical information about these defaulters."