Be Alert: Income Tax Department Conducts Searches due to Non Compliance of Faceless Assessment Notices
The Income Tax Department carried out search on 17.03.2021 on a group engaged in the business of real estate, housing, hospitality and retail liquor trade. The search operation was carried out at 12 different premises located in Samalkha, Gurugram, Rohtak and Panchkula.
The search action emanated due to non-compliance to faceless scrutiny assessment notices selected and issued through a computerised system. Notices under the Faceless Assessment Scheme sent to certain assessees were consistently not complied with even though received by them. Data analytics revealed that the recipients were persons of no/low means. Subsequent internal and discreet enquiries revealed that the said persons were the front for the above said group and were also the benamidars of some of the group members.
Further enquiries revealed that the persons to whom the notices were issued were engaged in the liquor business run by the group. It was found that such persons to whom liquor licences were issued were the benamidars of the main group members. They were persons of no means and they have stated on oath that they have no knowledge of the business being run in their names. It seems that their names have been misused to avail the quota reserved for SC/ST section. Further investigation is on to establish the money trail and real ownership. Suitable action under Benami Prohibition Act will be taken in all such cases.
During the search, evidence has been found proving bogus booking of flats in the name of employees/relatives and unidentifiable persons, in the affordable housing scheme project of the group. The company has allotted houses to the employees of the group members, whose un-encashed cheques have been found at the premises. However, flats have been further sold to the actual buyer at a premium of Rs. 6 lakh to 10 lakh each. The premiums have been received in cash and not accounted for in the books. Premium in cash has been charged from the other buyers as well, in this affordable housing scheme. Thus, there is not only misuse of the scheme but also tax evasion which is estimated to be not less than Rs. 36 crore.
During the search, evidence was found that the group has claimed bogus expenses on account of building material like cement, raiti, iron bar etc. of around Rs. 100 crore, in previous years, leading to huge evasion of taxes. Further, it was seen that the group is also regularly claiming huge bogus business promotion expenses, in the previous years, and laundering the cash siphoned off as unaccounted investment in immovable properties.
Substantial evidence has also been found that the group has routed their unaccounted income of Rs. 70 crore in the form of bogus share capital and unsecured loan, through a shell company which has been invested in the buy-out of a real estate project from a popular builder in the area of Gurugram. Evidence in the form of property documents and title deeds have been found regarding investment in benami properties in India as well as out of the country. The matter is being examined further.
The group has incurred unaccounted expenditure for personal and office purposes in cash running into crores of rupees. This also includes expenditure for taking various approvals for projects and lavish marriage expenses.
During the search, unexplained investment in jewellery of approximate Rs. 3 crore has been found. 4 bank lockers of the group have also been found and put under restraint.
Further investigations are in progress.