Guwahati/New Delhi: As a strange side-effect of demonetization Income Tax practitioners along with the Income Tax assessees and officers in Assam region, are getting subjected to unnecessary harassment by the authorities concerned. They lament for getting targeted for unnecessary pressure on some of the assessees to come under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) declaring parts of many of the assesses’ post-demonetization deposits as ‘undisclosed income.’
However, it is also reported in media that Income Tax practitioners are serving summons on the assessees to appear before the Income Tax assessment officers for the purpose. However, the proceedings of such appearances were not recorded and the assesses were threatened with dire consequences if they failed to declare parts of their post-demonetization deposits as black money to be deposited to the PMGKY and refused to pay tax at the rate of 50 per cent, for no fault of theirs. According to a Tax practitioner, this practice has became visible during the last week of March this year.
Sources in the Income Tax Officers’ Association here told Assam’s leading Newspaper Assam Tribune, on condition of anonymity, that the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) issued the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the PMGKY in February on how to collect money for the Yojana. But during later part of March 2017, verbal instructions were issued, contrary to these SOPs, through video-conferencing to exert pressure on the assessees.
This development was followed by adverse media reports. But the CBDT authorities remained silent on such reports.
Moreover, these work stress is ultimately resulting in severe mental stress to many Income Tax officials all over the country. Secretary general of the Income Tax Gazetted Officers’ Association Bhaskar Bhattacharya has writen to the CBDT chairman on March 28 alleging that the CBDT top brass were issuing directions ‘on hourly basis’ and forcing the Income Tax officers to exert ‘pressure’ on tax payers, which resulted in ‘utter confusion and indecision’ among the Income Tax officers.
The secretary general of the Income Tax Gazetted Officers’ Association wrote, suddenly Assessing Officers were asked to conduct surveys on the basis of cash deposit information in order to pressurise the recalcitrant assessees to commit to participating in PMGKY. Later the track changed to persuading the assessees to come under PMGKY over telephone, although this approach is diametrically opposite to the essence of Instruction No.3 containing the SOP. Then came the directions from the higher-ups to summon the assessees by issuing notices under Section 131, another blatant deviation from the principle that there should not be any inter-personal interaction with the assessees.