The number of income tax appeals pending at various judicial fora stood at 4,78,801 at the end of the financial year 2018-19, the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday. During the Union Budget 2020 presentation, the ''Vivad se Vishwas'' scheme was announced to provide for dispute resolution in respect of pending income tax litigation. Pursuant to the announcement, the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020, was introduced in the Lok Sabha last month.
In a written reply to a query in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said that as many as 3,75,306 income tax appeals were pending before judicial fora, including high courts and the Supreme Court, in 2014-15. Such appeals increased to 4,78,801 in 2018-19.
He said the objective of the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020, is to reduce pending income tax litigation, generate timely revenue for the government and benefit taxpayers by providing them peace of mind, certainty and savings on account of time and resources that would otherwise be spent on the long-drawn and vexatious litigation process.
Thakur further said that with the objective of enhancing the efficiency of the delivery system of the income tax department, the government has proposed to amend the provisions of the Income Tax Act to mandate the Central Board of Direct Taxes to adopt a Taxpayers'' Charter. In another reply, the minister said the income tax department carried out 893 ''search and seizure actions'' during the April-January period of the current financial year.
He said investigation regarding tax evasion is an ongoing process and whenever any instance comes to the notice of the department, appropriate action including searches, surveys, assessment of income, levy and recovery of tax, and imposition of penalty, among other steps, is taken. As many as 1,149 prosecutions were launched by the tax department till January-end in the current financial year.
Meanwhile, replying to a question regarding bank frauds, Thakur said the impact of the comprehensive steps taken to curb bank frauds is visible in the declining trend in the amount involved by year of occurrence of fraud in public sector banks, with the amount reducing sharply from a peak of Rs 50,329 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 3,781 crore in the first three quarters of 2019-20.