The assessing officers (AOs) of the tax department had in July asked the CBDT to extend the deadline, saying it was "humanly impossible" to finish the task in the given timeline as it required a lot of "paperwork and manpower".
The CBDT on Thursday extended the deadline up to December 31 for the Income-tax department to complete the final assessment of about 87,000 entities that made suspicious deposits post-demonetisation. The existing deadline of September 30 is being “extended” by three months after considering “various difficulties” being reported by the field offices of the department in finalising assessments in OCM (operation clean money) cases, a senior official told PTI.
An order was issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Thursday, setting the new deadline on December 31, the official said.
The CBDT frames policy for the I-T department. This is the second extension given by the Board in this case after the first deadline of June 30 was extended up to September, the official said.
‘Operation Clean Money’ is the special title given by the CBDT to the specific probe it launched to check black money post-demonetisation.
The assessing officers (AOs) of the tax department had in July asked the CBDT to extend the deadline, saying it was “humanly impossible” to finish the task in the given timeline as it required a lot of “paperwork and manpower”. These cases are those where suspicious deposits of huge amounts or amounts not in conformity with the transaction history of the entity were made post-demonetisation, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016.
Two high-value notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 were demonetised as part of the decision. The board, earlier, had also framed a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the assessment of these cases stating that the taxman initially sent notices (under Section 142(1) that pertains to inquiry before assessment) in three lakh cases, 87,000 out of these have “not filed their return of income” for assessment year 2017-18.” It had asked the assessing officers to use the ‘best judgement assessment’ procedure as stipulated under Section 144 of the I-T Act to finalise these 87,000 cases.
The section essentially reads, “If any person fails to comply with all the terms of notice issued under Section 142(1), the assessing officer after taking into account all relevant material which the AO has gathered shall after giving the assessee an opportunity of being heard, make the assessment of total income or loss to the best of his judgement…”
The CBDT, on its part, had assured the AOs that its technical and data mining arm will provide them with the addresses, bank accounts and the transaction details of these 87,000 individuals and entities who have made “substantial cash deposits during the demonetisation period”. It had asked the AOs that they should also make a “detailed analysis of past Income Tax Returns, if available, to form an opinion regarding the nature of transactions related to demonetisation” while framing the assessment of these entities.
“On the basis of all material and evidence gathered by the AO, during the course of assessment proceedings, assessee would be duly provided with an opportunity to explain his/her case,” the SOP said. The SOP said that once the “ultimate beneficiary of a transaction has been established”, the AO should forward this to his counterpart who has jurisdiction over the entity under scanner. It had flagged a special case, saying if “entry operators” or hawala trade-like instances are found then the jurisdictional assessing officers should “tax the unaccounted commission receipts” and unearth the nexus to catch tax evaders.
The range heads, officers in the ranks of principal chief commissioners and chief commissioners of the department, were also asked to “monitor” the framing of the final assessment order of these entities.