Deposits over 5 lakh will land you in deep trouble

New Delhi, Feb 21: The CBDT today asked the taxman to ensure there is no "threat, warning or show cause" notice to taxpayers contacted by it under 'Operation Clean Money' that is aimed at checking black money post-note ban. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the policy-making body of the Income Tax department, brought out an eight-page instruction leaflet clearly mandating that no person under verification as part of the operation is required to attend the I-T office "personally under any circumstance and at any stage."

"It should be ensured that the communications made online with the persons under verification should be in very polite language without containing any element of threat or warning. No show cause of any kind should be given," it stated. 

The department had sent SMSes and emails to 18 lakh people who made suspicious deposits of over Rs 5 lakh during the 50-day demonetisation period as part of this operation and close to six lakh people have replied on the e-filing portal and have acknowledged to have made such deposits by February 15.

This exercise has been called 'Operation Clean Money' by the CBDT.

These are the first set of official guidelines issued by the Board with regard to the execution and assessment of the data received under this operation after taxpayers and others had raised doubts about possible harrasment by the taxman.

Asking the taxman to keep their queries "relevant and limited in number" as this exercise is only a preliminary verification process, the CBDT has asked the Assessing Officers (AO) to keep their seniors in loop while processing these cases.

It further added a word of caution that "even telephonic queries (with taxpayers) are to be avoided." "It is reiterated that no independent enquiry or third party verifications are required to be made by the AO outside the online portal. Whatever information is necessary during verification, the same has to be collected through the person under verification using online platform only," the instructions, issued to all field offices of the I-T department, said.

It has been mentioned that in case the AO is "satisfied" by the explanation provided by the taxpayer then the case should be closed electronically "without any physical interface with the person concerned." It has also asked region in-charges of the department to hold sessions and meetings with the taxpayers, trade bodies and Chartered Accountants (CAs) for those people who have not yet filed their responses.