Hyderabad: Industrialists, businessmen and potential tax evaders are likely to find income tax sleuths at their doorstep once the festive season comes to an end in October.
After lying low for the last two months following the suicide of Cafe Coffee Day founder V.G. Siddhartha, and the criticism that followed over “tax terrorism” — the Income-Tax department is gearing up to commence massive searches and raids with renewed vigour, post Diwali. The move is primarily aimed at achieving the all India target of Rs 13.8 lakh crore, set by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) for the I-T department for the financial year 2019-20.
Sources in the I-T department told Deccan Chronicle that since July 31 — the day Cafe Coffee Day founder committed suicide, allegedly due to harassment by the I-T department officials — the Union finance ministry had sounded the I-T officials to go slow for the time being. Not only did the corporates accuse the I-T department of “tax terrorism”, some of the top industrialists even took up the matter personally with the finance ministry.
But with the overall tax collections between April 1 and September 17 being badly impacted, mainly due to the I-T department’s temporary “soft approach” towards corporates, senior I-T officials made it clear to the Union finance ministry that if they continued to go slow, it would have a huge impact on the overall tax collections for the financial year 2019-20.
“If we have to achieve the target of Rs 13.05 lakh crore, then we have to make up for the lost time (last two months since CCD founder’s death). It has collectively been decided to commence our operations full throttle once the festive season comes to an end, that is post Diwali,” a senior I-T official said.
The major reason why I-T department is re-launching their operations in the form of more searches and raids, are the numbers.
Post September 15, which was the last day for payment of advance tax, the total net collection stood at a little over Rs 4.46 lakh crore, up by a mere 5.2 per cent compared to the mop up of Rs 4.24 lakh crore in the previous year for the same period.
This was seen as a “very poor growth” and the primary reasons, officials believe, was the soft approach the I-T department had adopted in the aftermath of Siddhartha’s suicide and the economic slowdown to some extent. Some key I-T regions like Delhi and Bengaluru have been impacted so badly that their growth rate went down to -7.0 and -2.9 per cent respectively.
“In the months of August and September, there have hardly been significant operations by the I-T department which has ended up in poor performance. But if we have to achieve the target, we need to tighten the screws and therefore, it was decided to go after the rich,” remarked another official.
The CBDT had set an all India budgetary target of Rs 13.8 lakh crore for the I-T department for the financial year 2019-20 of which Rs 7,60,000 crore is towards corporate tax and personal income tax is Rs 6,07,200 crore. The target for 2018-19 was Rs 11.5 lakh crore.
Of this, the target set for Hyderabad IT region, which comprises both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is Rs 73,523 crore, a jump of over Rs 13,000 crore from the target of Rs 60,845 crore in 2018-19.