You've got mail from IT dept. If you've put more cash in bank than limit, check your PAN account

The Income Tax department has stuck an e-notice, as it were, on your online income tax account. This is mandatory for anyone filing online returns which in turn is mandatory for anyone reporting more than Rs 5 lakh income. Some 18 lakh such notices have been issued so far. You would find it under the ‘Cash transactions 2016’ that flashes menacingly at you as you sign into your account with the help of your login ID which is your PAN.

There may be no cash deposits by you of the disagreeable, demonetized 500 and 1000 rupee notes between 10 November 2016 and 30 December 2016 or what you have deposited might not have so far excited the suspicion of the tax sleuths as yet. However, you are nevertheless urged by the website to keep reverting to it because who knows you may come under the IT radar till 31 March, 2017 after which the department would start sending formal notices. Some 60,000 out of 18 lakh citizens have already responded online. If their explanation washes with the department, they won’t be bothered further, but if it doesn’t they may get a formal notice post 31 March, 2017.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The idea is to warn the crooks that they are on the radar of the department and that its claim of having built a formidable goldmine of information through banking and IT software is no empty boast. It is also a quiet nudge to the crooks to participate in the ongoing Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) under which those who have deposited their ill-gotten demonetized notes can get away by paying a 50 percent tax and parking 25 percent of their deposits in a four-year non-interest earning deposit account. Reports, both anecdotal and from the field, state that so far PMGKY has got but a lukewarm response, but then experts concede that all amnesty schemes are thronged towards their fag end with fence sitters who are always in large numbers carefully weighing the pros and cons of participation. Now, they will be goaded into premature action of embracing PMGKY what with the menacing flashing message on your screen once you log in.

The department would do well to send SMS as well as emails to those who have such online accounts and who are on the radar because not all log on to their accounts every now and then. Indeed the last week of July is the default week for such an online visit to one’s account because for common folks 31 July is their tryst with the department---the last date for filing income tax returns for the previous year just ended i.e. 31 March. The department cannot count on voluntary compliance on the basis of such deemed notices. Sending an SMS as well as email shouldn’t take much effort or cost.

What about those tax evaders who do not have their online IT accounts? Well, they are the ones whose dovecotes must be fluttered more aggressively. It is typical of the department to target the sitting ducks. The salaried class and companies are sitting ducks when it comes to tax collection and they are made to pay through their noses leaving the professionals and businessmen severely alone except with offer of blandishments like soft presumptive tax schemes and periodic amnesty schemes. And it is once again the sitting ducks who would have to look over their shoulders into their online IT accounts till 31 March to see if they are on the radar of the department even for an innocuous deposit of the demonetized notes.

The department, apart from carrying out raids, must send out notices to suspect crooks who do not have online IT accounts by accessing their addresses from the banks so that they too are nudged quietly into participating in the PMGKY. The success of PMGKY can be touted as the success of the demonetization scheme itself, what with calling the bluff of the black money hoarders being the primary object of demonetization to start with till the goalpost was shifted every now and then along the way. Indeed the success of the PMGKY would blunt the criticism that the demonetization scheme was a flop on the facile ground that the entire stock of 500 and 1000 rupee notes found its way into the banking system thus proving that there was no black money after all. Participation in PMGKY would disabuse the myth that bank deposits do not , vest the money with the legit status.

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Updated Date: Feb 17, 2017 11:50:35 IST