The Income Tax (I-T) department has issued notices, seeking an explanation from several former AIADMK ministers and officials, whose names were found during searches conducted at properties of many contractors and businessmen.
The Income Tax Act empowers department officials to issue notices under three acts. “We have issued notices to nearly 10 former ministers and officials as well as police officers under Sections 148 or 153 C of the Income Tax Act,” said a senior Income Tax official.
Section 148 of the Act says an assessing officer may have reason to believe that an assessee has not disclosed his or her income correctly and therefore, would have paid lower taxes. “As per this section, before making such an assessment or reassessment, the assessing officer should serve a notice to the assesse, asking him to furnish his return of income. The notice issued for this purpose is issued under the provisions of Section 148,” said the official.
Under Section 153C, when the search is conducted on a person and undisclosed assets/documents indicating undisclosed income are found as belonging to or pertains to another person other than the “searched person”, then proceedings would be undertaken against the other person.
Income tax searches have been happening since 2016 when the gutka searches became a big issue in which a former minister and some senior police officials were named.
“After the gutka searches, we conducted, raids on the properties of Christy (Friedgram, a supplier of pulses to the state civil supplies corporation), VK Sasikala’s (aide of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa) family and several other contractors who were involved in constructions, film financiers etc. In many of these searches, we found names of former ministers, officials and in some documents, the amount across the name was also found. It is based on these we issued the notices,” said the official.
It was during searches on the properties of Sasikala, her family members as well as those who were close to the family, that the department found names of almost all former ministers, said the official.
“Once notices are issued, the assessee will have to explain as to whether the money shown in the document has not been included in his income. Once it is proved, we will levy tax, interest and penalty for hiding the income,” said the official.
The department will go to any extent to prove whether any money was paid to the former minister. “Towards this, we will order for contract details, bank account details and other documents to check the connection between the contractor and former minister or ministers. Our job is to make the assessee pay tax as per his or her income and we cannot comment whether it was corruption or not,” said the official.