NEW DELHI: The Income Tax Department is facing a staff crunch, thereby slowing down efforts to bring black money offenders to book. “We welcome the government’s initiative against black money. But we are already under immense pressure. Currently, the department is short of over 20,000 officials. About 55,000 officials are doing the job of 76,000, which is the sanctioned strength,” said Ashok Kanojia, president, Income Tax Employees’ Federation (ITEF). Lakhs of accounts, lying dormant for years, have become suddenly active after the operation against black money began. Over Rs 30,000 crore have been deposited in 25 crore Jan Dhan accounts in the last few days.
A senior official said I-T officials avoid conducting raids and surveys even after getting information. “The department is flooded with information and inputs about cash hoarders. At times we have to do away with surveys due to lack of staff. Now, this syndrome will only rise,” added the official.
Former CBDT chairman B M Singh said they cannot look into all I-T returns, even if only about 4 per cent of Indians disclose their income. “It is impossible to scan all accounts for unaccounted money. We can investigate only partially given the current strength,” he added.
Scarcity of staff is impeding work on the income-tax raids against black money post the demonetisation drive. Tax officials said only a fraction of the total declarations is being scrutinised properly. There are a little over 7,000 assessment officers at the commissioner-level including about 4,200 I-T officials. Sources say this deficit would make it difficult for the department to investigate all accounts with a cash flow of Rs 2.5 lakh and more. The lakhs of Jan Dhan accounts, which have suddenly become active, also call for inquiry.