Crackdown on benami properties: I-T officials scanning profiles of those with assets above Rs 30 lakh

Crackdown on benami properties: I-T officials scanning profiles of those with assets above Rs 30 lakh

The taxman is also investigating those shell companies and their directors whose operations were recently "debarred" by the government as part of the drive to check black money generation through their abuse.

In its drive against the benami property holders and shell companies, the Income Tax Department is checking the "tax profiles" of all property registrations above Rs 30 lakh. The inquiry is being done under the provisions of the Anti-Benami Act, the CBDT chief said on Tuesday. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra confirmed the department was also probing the shell companies - along with their directors - debarred by the government.

The top taxman said this while interacting with reporters after inaugurating the Income Tax Department pavilion at the India International Trade Fair (IITF), which began at Pragati Maidan here on Tuesday.

Sources in the I-T department said so far the taxman has attached around 621 properties , including some bank accounts. The total amount involved in these cases that is being probed under the Benami Transactions Act is about Rs 1,800 crore. "We will destroy all instruments that are used to convert black money into white. This also includes shell companies. Also, the department is checking the income tax profiles of all properties which have a registry value of over Rs 30 lakh. We get this information under the law. If these profiles are found suspicious or incorrect, action will be taken (under the Benami Act)," Chandra said.

Chandra added the issue was "very serious" and that the tax officials had done a lot of work on this front. "We have opened 24 units (of the I-T to implement the anti-benami Act) all over the country. We are getting information from different sources," he said. "Our efforts in this direction are being intensified further," he said.

Chandra said that the taxman is also matching the data "of shell companies which have been debarred recently". If anyone of these companies are found have benami property or any other financial transaction that the I-T department has received and that is not matching, action will be taken, he said. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in November 2016, the two highest value banknotes of the time, the I-T department had warned people against depositing their unaccounted banknotes in accounts maintained by someone else.

Such an act, it had said, would attract criminal charges under the Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, applicable on both movable and immovable properties. The I-T department is the nodal department to enforce the Benami Act in the country. The department started initiating actions under the new Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, from November 1 last year. The law provides for a maximum punishment of seven years in jail and a fine.

With PTI inputs