I-T Department may slap a hefty 200 per cent penalty on unexplained high cash deposits in banks even before annual income tax returns are filed so as to prevent black money being converted into white during the 50-day window provided for turning in the junked Rs 500/1000 notes, a Finance Ministry official said.
It is also collating data on spurt in deposits in zero- balance Jan Dhan accounts and will slap a 200 per cent penalty on unexplained high value cash deposits, he said.
After withdrawing old 500 and 1000 rupee notes, the government has allowed the banned notes to be deposited in bank accounts or exchanged for new legal tenders till December 30.
This has led to cash balances popping up in millions of Jan Dhan accounts, opened under a government scheme for beneficiaries to get their entitlements like LPG subsidy. “Tax Department is collating data on spurt in Jan Dhan accounts. It will analyse all data and impose tax plus a 200 per cent penalty in cases of unexplained high value deposits,” the official said.
Under Section 12 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, tax department can ask for any information from any agency including the Reserve Bank of India and cooperative banks besides all scheduled banks.
To prevent misuse of the 50-day window provided for exchange of genuine holdings of the scrapped 500 and 1000 rupee notes, the tax department may resort to imposing tax and penalty even before annual Income Tax Return (ITR) is filed, the official said.
“Any unexplained source of income can be charged with tax and a 200 per cent penalty on it. That can happen before filing of ITR. No retrospective amendment is required if high value deposits are caught before filing ITR,” he said.
Finance Ministry has carried out series of advertisements in newspapers assuring people that their hard earned money is safe and depositing junked Rs 500/1,000 notes of up to Rs 2.50 lakh in bank accounts will not be reported to the tax department.
It has also stated that farm income continues to remain tax free and can be easily deposited in bank. Small businessmen, housewives, artisans, workers can also deposit cash in their accounts without any apprehensions, it has said.
On farm income, the official said the tax department will match the acre of land the person has and the deposits made in the bank account to identify any discrepancy.
‘Govt should hire ex-bank staff massively to deal with banking ops’
Government should hire retired bank employees on a massive scale for a speedy currency swap and cash withdrawal in the wake of junking of big denomination currency notes, industry body Assocham said.
Impressing upon the government to mobilise all resources across different departments, it said a massive hiring to ex-bank staff will expedite cash management with minimum inconvenience to public.
“Just like general elections when staff across different departments is mobilised; different types of staff can be used for helping the over-stretched banks, grappling with the huge task of dealing with the demonetized currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and dispensing the new notes,” it said in an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It has also advised employing the retired staff on a short-term contracts of three to six months.
Country’s largest lender SBI and some other banks have already roped in their previous employees to help them out to manage cash handling with the public. “While preference can be given by banks to re-employ their own retired personnel, even cross - bank staff would be helpful. After all, functioning of the public sector banks is generally the same,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.
It has also suggested diverting staff from other financial services and PSUs in insurance business for taking up banking operations for the time being.
The options of outsourcing the house-keeping services to the private sector for the orderly conduct of business at the bank branches should be explored.
Such services can include helping the senior citizens; guiding those not familiar with the banking, and the general security upkeep.