The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Monday dismissed reports that it has asked its officers to go beyond raids and searches to target tax evaders and said stringent action in big cases of evasion would demonstrate to compliant taxpayers that laws are just and fair.
"CBDT clarifies that this is factually not correct. It may be appreciated that the need of the hour is to provide effective deterrence since the soft action in extreme and big cases of tax evasion affects the behaviour of the compliant tax payers," said a finance ministry statement here.
"This has been brought out in the latest study conducted by the NIPFP (National Institute of Public Finance and Policy)," it added.
The statement referred to a discussion paper circulated during the recently-concluded national conference of chief commissioners and directors general of income tax and said the media reports had taken things out of context.
"Effective and stringent action only in known and big cases of tax evasion would go a long way in demonstrating to the large number of compliant tax payers that the tax laws are just and fair and also encourage voluntary tax compliance," CBDT said.
Pointing out that cases selected for intrusive action after detailed intelligence gathering and due diligence are exceptional and are not the norm for routine cases, CBDT added: "It may be noted that only 537 searches were conducted in financial year 2014-15 in which admitted undisclosed income was to the tune of Rs.10,288.05 crore."
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last month asked the income tax department to squeeze the parallel economy, also called black economy, without being harsh.
"The parallel economy has to be squeezed and this has to be done in a very fair manner, not in a harsh manner. In doing so, as senior officers you have to maintain the highest standard of integrity," Jaitley said, addressing the annual conference of senior officials of the CBDT.
"Black money has to be squeezed," he said, adding that the government has taken a series of measures to curb black money, including passage of the black money law by parliament and the introduction of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill to deal with domestic illegal wealth.