I-T working on more, better rewards for tax evasion informers
The I-T Department is working on new rules to encourage people to provide information on tax evasion and benami transactions. Currently, informers get Rs. 1L as instant reward, plus up to 10% of the total tax liability capped at Rs. 15L. But in many cases, if defaulters take the legal route, informers have to wait for years for the reward, an official said.
Some current provisions actually deter informers, officials say
Many of the current rules might deter potential informers, officials say. For example, they have to submit a written undertaking that if the information is false, they will be liable for prosecution. "We are in discussions to somehow rephrase it, so that instead of putting fear in the mind of informers, we can encourage them without jeopardizing the department's interests," another official said.
'Informer network important, low rewards, complicated processes won't help'
A strong network of informers is essential for effective detection of tax evasion cases, many officials believe. But people "won't come forward to provide information on properties worth several crores when the incentive is so meager and the process so complicated," an investigator said.
But simply changing policies might not achieve desired results
Meanwhile, some like SK Goyal, former I-T Chief Commissioner, feel the clause about 'fake' informers must stay, since many people lodge fake complaints over personal rivalry. "This leads to harassment of innocent people and increases I-T's workload," he said. Moreover, quick reward in each case isn't possible, he added. "The system of investigation, assessment and appeals will take years even if policies are amended."
In 14 months, I-T attached properties worth over Rs. 3,500cr
Since the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act was implemented in November'16, I-T has made provisional attachment in over 900 cases till January. "These attachments include plots of land, flats, shops, jewellery, vehicles, deposits in bank accounts, fixed deposits, etc. The value of properties under attachment is more than Rs. 3,500cr, inclusive of immovable properties of over Rs. 2,900cr," a release said.