The focus is on those with interest income of Rs 5 lakh or more. The move is part of attempts being made by the government to widen the tax base. The tax department has a stiff target of raising Rs 9.8 lakh crore from direct taxes.
Income tax authorities have now turned their attention to thousands of individuals who have high interest income from fixed deposits but are probably not paying tax.
The focus is on those with interest income of Rs 5 lakh or more, which will include several senior citizens, many of whom either do not include this in their taxable income or simply do not pay tax or file returns, senior officers in the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) told TOI.
The move is part of attempts being made by the government to widen the tax base and also includes focus on professionals, many of whom earn their fee in cash and do not disclose the exact income despite maintaining a lavish lifestyle. “It will be non-intrusive,” said a senior tax official, adding that the department will rely on the enormous amount of data that it has amassed from various agencies to zero in on taxpayers whose interest income from large fixed deposits may not be properly reflected in their annual statements or simply not been disclosed.
These individuals are tougher to catch and often sug gest that the survey or search has resulted in cash disclosure due to seasonal factors. For instance, often doctors, who have been raided during this time of the year, have attributed higher cash holdings to fees from patients suffering from dengue or chikungunya infections that peak during the rainy season.
In contrast, interest income is seen to be a more durable source of income. The tax department is tapping information available from banks that deduct tax (TDS) on FDs. Sources explained that while 10% tax is paid in many cases, the individuals fall into the 30% bracket and yet do not pay taxes.
“Our focus is on the large evaders. There is no point chasing the smaller persons who do not yield much returns,” explained a top-ranking officer.
Officers said that efforts are part of a strategy to expand the number of return filers by around one crore people. In fact, this year, the department had shot off messages to many such individuals.
The tax department has a stiff target of raising Rs 9.8 lakh crore from direct taxes in the current fiscal year but is confident that the tax widening measures adopted by it will help in meeting the target.