Santosh Kumar Gangwar.

Santosh Kumar Gangwar.

33 lakh taxpayers added to tax net post DeMon; less than in last two fiscals

Govt has no official estimation of the quantum of black money in India

Agency Report | New Delhi | 1 August, 2017 | 11:00 PM

As many as 33 lakh new taxpayers have been added to the tax net post demonetisation, Parliament was informed on Tuesday.

However the number of taxpayers added is less than the number of taxpayers added between the financial years 2014-15 and 2015-16, when 40 lakh extra returns were filed, the government data showed.

“The number of income taxpayers has increased after demonetisation. During the period of November 9, 2016 to March 31, 2017, 1.96 crore returns were filed as compared to 1.63 crore returns filed during corresponding period of FY 2015-16 and 1.23 crore returns filed during corresponding period of FY 2014-15,” Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar told Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

As for the objectives of demonetisation, the Minister said that it “seeks to create a new ‘normal’ wherein the GDP would be bigger, cleaner and real”.

“This exercise (demonetisation) is a part of government’s resolve to eliminate corruption, black money, counterfeit currency and terror funding,” he added.

In a separate reply, the Minister said that there was “no official estimation of the quantum of black money in India”.

“There was no official estimation of quantum of black money in India. However, post demonetisation, the Income Tax Department (ITD) conducted searches in 900 groups of persons during November 2016 to March 2017 leading to seizure of Rs 900 crore and admission of undisclosed income of Rs 7,961 crore,” he said.

He added that during the same period, 8239 surveys were conducted leading to detection of undisclosed income of Rs 6,745 crore.

The Minister disclosed that during the current Financial Year up to June 30, the ITD has conducted searches in 102 groups, seizing assets worth Rs 103 crore. The persons searched have admitted undisclosed income of Rs 2,670 crore.

He also said that the ITD has also launched ‘Operation Clean Money’ with the mission to “create a tax compliant society through a fair, transparent and non-intrusive tax administration where every Indian takes pride in paying taxes”.

Gangwar said under the operation, about 18 lakh persons whose cash transactions did not appear in line with their tax profile were identified and approached through email/sms.

“More than 9.27 lakh responses were received giving information on 13.33 lakh accounts involving cash deposits of around Rs 2.89 lakh crore. Out of this, a record number of 5.27 lakh responses were received in the first 12 days of the operation,” he said.

“Advance data analytics tools were deployed which further identified 5.56 lakh new cases and about one lakh cases in which either partial or no response was received in the earlier phase. Besides, about 200 high risk clusters of persons were identified for appropriate action,” he said.

g discussion, Congress members Digvijaya Singh, B.K. Hariprasad and Hussain Dalwai moved an amendment to clause 3 of the bill seeking to provide for appointment of all the five members of the commission from the OBC community, including a woman and a person from the minority community.

This was objected to by the government’s side. Leader of the House Arun Jaitley said that what the Congress members were seeking could be looked into at the time of framing of rules under the law.

He said inclusion of such a provision barring entry of other community members in the commission could make the law unconstitutional as it may not stand judicial scrutiny.

As Congress members, including Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal pressed for an immediate vote, Deputy Chairperson P.J. Kurien ordered a 10-minute suspension of proceedings for the two sides to sort out the matter.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury suggested that in case the bill could not be passed in the original form, the government could rectify the defects in the Lok Sabha where the legislation has to go back because there has been no unanimity in the Rajya Sabha. The amended bill from the Lok Sabha can be adopted by the house later, he said.

Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said non-passage of the bill will give a wrong message to the country and suggested that the government and the main opposition Congress should sort out the issue and get the bill passed.

At the insistence of Congress members, the chair put their amendement to vote in a division which was carried with 75 voting for and 54 against, reflecting the lack of numbers on the government side.

When the amended Clasue 3 of the bill was put to vote, the BJP members voted against it. The result of the division was 69 ayes and 50 noes. A Constitution amendment bill can be passed only with the majority of the house present and two-thirds of those present voting in its favour.

The bill without Clause 3 that seeks to insert Article 330 8B was passed. The bill has to go back to the Lok Sabha where the govenment can amend it and get it passed as it has a majority.

After the fiasco for the government, both the sides traded charges. Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the Congress will have to regret this “moment” against backward classes for centuries to come.

Azad accused the government of being insincere and failing to do its homework.