India's income tax department has scanned one crore accounts for unaccounted money and identified 18 lakh people with "suspicious deposits" of over Rs 5 lakhs.
It has asked these depositors to explain the source of their funds, PTI reported. The tax department was looking at suspicious deposits siphoned off into bank accounts after demonetisation as a part of 'Operation Clean Money' launched by it on January 31.
It has sent SMS and emails to 18 lakh people who have made suspicious deposits of Rs 5 lakh and above between November 10 and December 30.
Sources told PTI the department is scrutinising all categories of accounts and will send out more SMS/emails for suspicious deposits under "Operation Clean Money".
It has also asked taxpayers to e-verify the deposits they made in their accounts after demonetisation on November 8 and respond to queries of any mismatch on the tax e-filing portal.
The tax department has run big data analytics through more than one-crore accounts in its data bank and matched them with the taxpayer profile of the holder, a top source told PTI.
"We have initially matched 1-crore accounts with the profile in our database and identified 18 lakh people with suspicious deposits of over Rs 5 lakh. We will expand the scope of data analytics further and match the profiles with our data base," the source told PTI.
"If the cash in hand is as per the balance sheet, no questions will be asked and the case would be closed. We have put enough safeguard to ensure that there is no harassment to taxpayers," the source added.
"If the department is convinced with the reply of the assessee, the case will be closed and that will be communicated by SMS and email. But, in case of unsatisfactory reply, the decision to issue notice will be taken by Assistant Commissioner and Commissioner rank officers," the source said.
In order to reduce harassment of taxpayers, the revenue department has mandated only officers in the rank of Assistant Commissioners and above to issue notices in case of unsatisfactory response received about bank deposits post demonetisation.
Cash transactions above Rs 3 lakh to invite 100% penalty: Government
In a bid to curb black money, the government has also said it will impose a steep penalty on those accepting cash in excess of Rs 3 lakh while settling any transaction.
A ban on cash transaction of more than Rs 3 lakh has been proposed in the Budget for 2017-18.
Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia told PTI on Saturday the penalty for cash transaction will be steep and the receiver will have to pay an amount equivalent to the cash received.
"Supposing you do a transaction of Rs 4 lakh in cash, then the penalty would be Rs 4 lakh. If you do a transaction of Rs 50 lakh, penalty would be Rs 50 lakh," he told PTI, adding that the penalty will be levied on the receiver.
The government says it intends to track all large cash transactions to disincentivise people from generating black money and also to also curb the avenues of conspicuous consumption through cash.
People with large sum of unaccounted money usually spend it on holidaying or buying luxury items like cars, watches and jewellery. The new cash curbs will mean that such spending avenues are curtailed, the revenue secretary said.