NEW DELHI: The Income Tax (IT) Department’s anti-evasion drive over the last two years has netted it a rich haul of unaccounted property in south Indian cities, particularly Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi. But in cities up north, including financial capital Mumbai and political capital New Delhi, the returns have not been commensurately handsome.
According to a document detailing the number of searches, seizure and admission of undisclosed income for the financial years 2016 and 2017 (up to February) filed to the Investigation Wing of the IT Department (a copy of which is with New Indian Express), Bengaluru tops the list among 14 cities.
In 2016, the department carried out 25 searches against Bengaluru-based groups and individuals and seized Rs 64.84 crore while securing admission of undisclosed income worth Rs 1854.45 crore. In 2017, the total number of searches stands at 72, seizure of unaccounted money at Rs 131.82 crore while admission of undisclosed income has shot up to Rs 4590.92 crore.
In contrast, business hub Mumbai saw 30 IT searches in 2016 in which Rs 35.27 crore was seized. The search targets disclosed unaccounted money amounting to Rs 1726.62 crore. In 2017, there were 54 searches in which Rs 115.09 crore was seized. But surprisingly, the admission of unaccounted money amounted to only Rs 20.76 crore.
The returns from Delhi were similarly paltry. In 2016, there were 32 IT searches in which Rs 41.54 crore was seized. And only Rs 147.57 crore was disclosed as unaccounted. In 2017, there were 84 searches in which Rs 173.41 crore was seized. Admission of undisclosed income amonuted to Rs 727.49 crore.
These figures pale in comparison to the findings in the south. ''For business hubs like Mumbai and Ahmedabad, these figures are shocking,'' said a source in the IT Department.
Chennai stood second in the list after Bengaluru. In 2016, admission of undisclosed income in that southern city was Rs 1330.65 crore (17 searches). In 2017, the figure went up to Rs 3327.66 crore from 99 searches. There were seizures of Rs 93.84 crore in 2016 and 429.74 crore in 2017.
Coming to Hyderabad, the IT circle of which has jurisdiction over Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, there were 46 searches in 2016 with Rs 43.20 crore seized. Admission of undisclosed income stood at Rs 650.57 crore. In 2017, the number of raids went up to 74, and seizures were to the tune of Rs 76.16 crore. Admission of undisclosed income amounted to Rs 1172.91 crore.
Even Kochi fetched a good haul for the IT Department. In 21 searches in 2016, IT officials seized Rs 16.13 crore and the admission of undisclosed income was a mere Rs 7.25 crore. But in 2017, the number of searches went up to 42 and seizures to Rs 37.69 crore while admission of undisclosed income went up to Rs 1069.09 crore.
A top source disclosed to New Indian Express that a majority of those who were searched or those who came forward to admit undisclosed income in the south were either politicians or groups and individuals known to have financially supported political parties'.
The IT Department ramped up its anti-evasion drive in 2016 even while the Income Declaration Scheme was in operation. After giving time to individuals and groups to come forward and declare undeclared income, sources said “all sorts of methods'' were used to instill fear among tax evaders. This included monitoring of phones, randomly calling up industrialists and coercing them with severe action.
"Delhi was monitoring the progress almost on a daily basis. All of us were under tremendous pressure," the source said. After demonetization of large currency notes in November last year, the investigation wings began to chase businessmen in south Indian cities. But the drive was seemingly not as intense elsewhere although the Income Tax establishments there are adequately staffed and assisted by intelligence gathering mechanisms.
“Across the South, people who stashed away huge amounts of money were chased by the department. This yielded big results. But the IT wings in the north did not do as much,'' sources said.
Coming to Ahmedabad, there were 14 searches in 2016 in which Rs 76.40 crore was seized and the admission of undisclosed income stood at Rs 248.12 crore. In 2017, there were 74 searches in which Rs 69.66 crore was seized while the admission of undisclosed income was only Rs 423.18 crore.
Income Tax hauls in major cities, 2017
|City||Searches||Seizures (Rs, cr)||Undisclosed income (Rs, cr)|