The tax department on Friday issued warning against those who undertake benami transactions as this would invite Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) of up to seven years under the normal I-T Act. The tax department said the government will soon operationalize a ‘Strong Team’ to effectively deal with benami properties as well undisclosed foreign income and assets. The Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT) is planning to form a special unit, which will dedicatedly investigate and act against ‘benamidars’ and black money holders having undisclosed foreign income and assets.
“There is a serious need of a separate unit, which will only probe and prosecute against benamidars and those black money holders who have undisclosed foreign assets like investigation and assessment unit of the income tax. This unit may be headed by Director General-level officer,” a senior Income Tax officer told ANI.
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Currently under the Finance Ministry, joint /additional commissioner of income-tax, an assistant / deputy commissioner of income-tax and a tax recovery officer in each region have been notified to perform the functions and exercise the powers of the approving authority, initiating officer and administrator respectively under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act (PBPT).
The Income Tax Department had identified 235 benami properties and attached properties worth Rs. 55 crore till mid February. The government has already enacted the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, which provides for rigorous imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine which may extend to 25 percent of the fair market value of the benami property. It also empowers the government to confiscate deposits of the people using others accounts to convert unaccounted wealth into white money.