I-T dept’s crackdown on benami properties; hundreds of notices issued, assets seized

Business Today | 15th March, 2021

After the finance ministry’s directive against benami properties, the income tax (I-T) department has launched a major drive against benami properties by utilising artificial intelligence, blockchain, data analytics technologies, and sharing information within different departments. The department has reportedly issued hundreds of notices to individuals who own such properties and in many cases assets have also been seized.

The department is mainly focussing on four different types of real estate transactions — properties bought with fake names, assets bought through laundered money, those hiding real estate properties and the use of black money in buying properties. This led to a huge detection of benami properties.

“Digitisation of land records and property records has led to a significant rise in detection of benami properties,” Rajesh Narain Gupta, managing director of SNG Partners, told The Economic Times. The department has even red-flagged certain areas of the country where the number of such properties is quite high. In many cases, individuals have bought these properties using money earned from drug peddling, the I-T department has learned. Several of such properties have already been seized.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes has also launched an automated dedicated e-portal on the e-filing website of the department to receive and process complaints regarding benami properties, tax evasion, and foreign undisclosed assets.

The public can now file a tax evasion petition through a link on the e-filing website of the department (incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in) under the head “file complaint of tax evasion/undisclosed foreign asset/ benami property”.

The facility allows for the filing of complaints by persons who are existing PAN/Aadhaar holders as well as for persons having no PAN /Aadhaar. Upon the successful filing of the complaint, the department will allot a unique number to each complaint and the complainant will be able to view the status of the complaint on the department’s website.