I-T dept to use 'non-intrusive' IT to curb tax evasion

The Income Tax Department is using non-intrusive technology to tackle cases of understatement in tax returns filed by higher income groups and those in the super-rich category, the Central Board of Direct Taxes said on Wednesday.

Talking about the surcharge levied on high income taxpayers in the Budget, CBDT chairman Atulesh Jindal said the number of such people, earning over Rs1 crore per annum, is less than a crore.

"I agree that there is some understatement of income as far as these higher income groups are concerned. Some committees, set up to study this matter, have also suggested that understatement is made among the higher income groups. However, this is in certain cases and all of them are filing their returns, no doubt. We are trying to make use of information technology to tackle such cases.

''The emphasis is on using more non-intrusive methods. We are making use of IT tools on a very large scale. We also have a very robust system to match the information that we have, from what we get," Jindal told PTI.

He said the surcharge was introduced to "compensate" for the abolition of the wealth tax. When asked how many assessees were in this category of super-rich in the country, Jindal said the figure is "less than a crore".

"The main emphasis of the Budget is to provide adequate funds for social schemes. A very substantial amount has been kept for infrastructure," the top CBDT official said, calling it a very "balanced" Budget.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley, in his budget speech on 29 February, had proposed to "raise the surcharge from 12 per cent to 15 per cent on persons, other than companies, firms and cooperative societies, having income above Rs1 crore".

A surcharge of 10 per cent on taxable income of Rs1 crore and above was imposed in 2013-14 by the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

In the last Budget, Jaitley had abolished wealth tax and replaced it with an additional surcharge of 2 per cent on the super-rich with a taxable income of over Rs1 crore.

Jindal said the Budget has proposals that would help the government's 'Make in India' initiative and lead to simplification of tax laws.

"A lot of attention has been given to Make in India by ease of compliance to income tax provisions in this Budget. These subjects have been given utmost priority," he said.

The CBDT chairman said a number of recommendations of the R V Easwar Committee have been included in the Budget which will simplify provisions and measures to facilitate ease of business and compliance (with tax laws).

"A number of those recommendations have been implemented either in the Budget or by way of issue of circulars or instructions (in the recent past). TDS provisions in particular have been streamlined keeping in view the recommendation of the committee in respect of certain heads. Threshold limits have been raised. Limits have been suitably enhanced. In certain items, the rate of deduction has been lowered like that for commission payment," he said.

The Easwar Committee was set up by the government last year to simplify Income Tax laws and procedures.