In a press meet in New Delhi today, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched a novel initiative, the ‘Clean Money’ website, hoping to crack down on black money.
"It is no longer safe to deal with excessive cash,” he said at the press briefing, adding that "detections have become easy, technology is an enabler." He also revealed that taxpayers could expect a further increase in tax returns in the future.
He noted that demonetisation was instrumental in reining in black money, as anonymous cash was brought into the tax system through 91 lakh additional declarations—an instance of voluntary compliance. E-filing of tax returns also went up by 22 percent. People whose deposits did not tally with these declarations have been duly pulled up, through data mining.
Describing the portal that has been instated to keep this momentum going, Jaitley said it has two facets, one for the compliant and the other for the non-compliant user. The portal is for the benefit and aid of honest and compliant taxpayers and will contain a means to communicate with the assessing officers. The site and campaign are also an effort to identify non-compliant taxpayers. It will hold all kinds of information and feedback and put up past records of IT raids, pull up defaulters, and rate them under various categories.
The FM mentioned that there has been a hike in the number of people who have filed personal income tax returns.
Designed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes or the CBDT, the core purpose of the portal is to identify people who have either deposited lofty sums or made high-value purchases which do not add up to their declared income.
Here’s how the Clean Money portal will work:
1) In order to reduce compliance cost for the taxpayers, this portal will allow the CBDT to carry out verifications of transactions completely digitally. All related information will be made available in the e-filing window of the PAN holder (after log in) at the portal https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in.
2) The PAN holder would be able to access and view the information using the link 'Cash Transactions 2016' under the 'Compliance' section of the portal. They would be able to submit an online explanation without having to visit the Income Tax office.
3) An e-mail and SMS will be sent to the taxpayers after submitting an online response on the e-filing portal. Anyone not registered on the portal can do so by clicking on the ‘Register Yourself’ button, and verify their email address and mobile number in order to receive electronic communication.
4) Based on approved risk criteria, data analytics will help them select cases cases for verification and additional information. This request will also be communicated via email or SMS, and can be responded to by the same medium.
5) The information on the online portal will be regularly updated on receipt of new information, response, and data analytics.
In the first phase of Operation Clean Money, the CBDT held 18 lakh people for irregularities in their tax payments. They were informed by SMS and email that they were required to explain certain financial activity. The second phase of Operation Clean Money will investigate high-risk individuals who make big-ticket transactions. Sixty-thousand such persons have already been pulled up, using data analytics.
"Those who pay honestly and on time have no reason to worry," he said, adding, "All the steps taken by the CBDT post demonetisation have sent a clear message that it is now not easy to deal with cash money. Also, cross-referencing technology has enabled us to detect the disproportionality during the money-flow quite smoothly. So, the entire system has been made to help taxpayers,” concluded Jaitley.