Under pressure from finance minister P Chidambaram, who is at pains to rein in the fiscal deficit at 5.3 percent of GDP for this financial year, the tax authorities are going after corporates seeking explanation for their lower service tax and excise duty payments.
A report in the Economic Times said Japan Airlines, handset maker Nokia, Country Inn and Simplex Infrastructure are some of the companies that have received harsh letters from the indirect tax authorities, while telecom companies such as Airtel, Uninor and Indus Tower will have to face a special audit to figure out actual tax payments.
Closer scrutiny is the result of telecom operators evading tax despite having collected tax from customers, while others are suspected of delaying payments.
The move is not likely to go down well with India Inc which is already cribbing about the talk of a likely super-rich tax.
And, despite Chidambaram promising that Budget 2013 will be a 'responsible' one, another ET report says that Income Tax officials are likely to get more power in dealing with Indians with undisclosed offshore bank accounts.
"Income tax officers may soon have the discretion to weigh the evidence in hand in deciding whether to launch a prosecution against a tax offender or compound the offence," the report said.
The tweaked law will impact several tax cases related to Indians with unauthorized overseas accounts, the report added.
On Tuesday, Chidambaram urged revenue officials to beef up tax collection efforts to achieve the budgeted target.
Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose too had issued a warning on January 2 that those avoiding payment of indirect taxes risk prosecution, arrest and attachment of property.
The government has budgeted to collect over Rs 5.05 lakh crore in the current fiscal from indirect taxes that comprise excise, customs and service tax, an increase of 27 percent over realisation in the previous fiscal.
However, indirect tax collection grew at a moderate rate of 16.8 percent to Rs 2.92 lakh crore in the April-November period as against the annual growth target of 27 percent.
In November last year the government had said it would be difficult to achieve the corporate tax, customs and excise mop-up target as projected in the budget because of subdued corporate profits.
The government has also tracked undisclosed incomes of more than Rs 50,000 crore over the last three years.
With PTI inputs