India makes an unprecedented move to detect tax evaders

Love checking into places on Facebook and posting envious pictures of your #travel on Instagram? While you are more than happy to share snippets from your luxurious lifestyle with friends, family and followers, there is someone else who is keeping an eye on your posts – the Income Tax Department!

Tax evasion to become impossible for the first time in the history of India

Love checking into places on Facebook and posting envious pictures of your #travel on Instagram? While you are more than happy to share snippets from your luxurious lifestyle with friends, family and followers, there is someone else who is keeping an eye on your posts – the Income Tax Department!

From the new financial year, starting April 1 this year, the tax authorities will be gawking with a keen eye on the Indian taxpayers. 

If you are amongst the honest citizens filing your dues appropriately, there is nothing to worry about. Things, however, could get uneasy for taxpayers whose spending pattern is not justified by the income they declare.

Introducing ‘Project Insight’, developed at an estimated cost of Rs 1,000 crore, the new tax tracker built painstakingly over the last few years, will equip the tax authorities with a comprehensive 360-degree profile of citizens across the country.

Related: Tax refund claims based on bogus investments has Income Tax department on alert

The new technology in the IT Department’s arsenal is developed with big data. This technology will allow tax authorities to gather virtual information from social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, in addition to verifying through traditional bank transactions.

Leveraging the power of machine learning, Project Insight will consist of an integrated information management system that will track everyone’s digital footprint and relevant documentation for tax probing.

Set to be fully operational from April 1, the big data capability will allow the tax department to set up a host of functionalities that gives taxmen the freedom to build a master profile of every taxpayer. This will include all key information such as address, signature, bank details, IT returns and social media profiles.

Related: Why tax planning alone won't make you rich?

The taxmen will be able to classify taxpayers basis the key information parameters mentioned above. Additionally, they will be able to gain detailed insights through a Geographic Information System that allows for focussed action and singles out non-complaint citizens through its business intelligence capabilities.

So if you’ve posted a picture of your new bike or car, bought a new house, fancy watch or jewellery, posted pictures of your vacation abroad or even stayed at premium properties in India, the IT department may cross-reference your purchases/ spending against your earnings and call you in for questioning or even raid your premises.

Related:  Tax planning tips for every age group 

With Project Insight, the tax authorities aim to encourage better tax compliance, bring in more people into the tax net and possibly detect tax truants who may have gotten away during demonetisation.

India now joins a select rank of countries such as Belgium, Canada and Australia that are using big data to track tax evasion. If you want to check how tax-savvy are you, find out with this quiz! 
 

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