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CBDT will use data from Project Insight to widen tax base: Rani Singh Nair
October, 06th 2016

Project Insight is an initiative of the finance ministry to widen the tax base by detecting tax evaders using technology.

In its persistent attempts to detect undisclosed income, the tax department, through its Project Insight, has mined “actionable data” on evaders of Securities Transaction Tax and Commodities Transaction Tax by way of pilot initiatives. The Project, which will be fully functional by next year, has already run a pilot on non-PAN data from banks and sub-registrars.

Project Insight is an initiative of the finance ministry to widen the tax base by detecting tax evaders using technology.

Rani Singh Nair, chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), said that after the success of the Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS), the department will use various data sets at its disposal to widen the tax base. “On data mining, we have already run a pilot in terms of non-filers monitoring system. This time we have run a pilot on non-PAN data and we have used it to see two categories of data: banks and sub-registrars. So we want to see that people not quoting PAN, we are able to reach them…So these are the kind of initiatives that have been done (to reduce black money in the economy,” she told The Indian Express in an interview.

“We have mined a lot of data relating to Securities Transaction Tax, Commodities Transaction Tax, all this has helped to get actionable data for us,” Nair said. Technology is helping the CBDT in meeting the mandate of increasing taxpayers base in the country, especially since the tax-to-GDP ratio is on the lower side in India.

“…We have been mandated to increase the number of taxpayers and the tax-to-GDP ratio in India is on the lower side. So we have to (increase). We are about 17 per cent and for most Asian countries it is about 24-25 per cent. So there is an effort to see that all the people who should be paying taxes are in the tax base, and as on date we have about 7.4 crore (taxpayers),” she said.

The Income Disclosure Scheme, 2016, which closed Friday, would help in reducing the quantum of black money and in widening the taxpayers’ base. The scheme saw the highest ever declaration of black money, as an amount of Rs 65,250 crore was declared as unaccounted income and assets under government’s four-month window.

A total of 64,275 persons declared their unaccounted wealth under the window, translating into an average of Rs 1 crore of declarations per person. The figures are likely to be revised upwards after the tabulation of data is finalised. Nair said the IDS scheme has been a “morale booster” for the tax officers in the country.

The government will also examine recommendations of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to look into ways to curb generation of black money. To make India a cashless economy, the Supreme Court-appointed SIT had recently suggested complete ban on cash transactions above Rs 3 lakh and imposition of an upper limit of Rs 15 lakh on cash holding by an individual or a corporate.

“See whatever the suggestions come from SIT we examine it in the government and then we implement it as and when the government has examined it. So these proposals will also be examined and then a decision will be taken,” Nair said.

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