Chennai, November 16, 2017

Hyderabad has the highest number of income tax defaulters among cities across the country.

The Telangana capital has 25 defaulters followed by Ahmedabad, which has 20. Across the country, there are 96 defaulters who owe a total Rs 3,614.14 crore as income tax for assessment years starting from 1980. These are individuals and companies from whom not a single rupee can be recovered.

In most cases, the department has not been able to trace the assessee and in some cases the assessees are bankrupt. An assessee from Mumbai called Uday Acharya (now dead) has to pay Rs 779.04 crore to the department, but he has been declared bankrupt. In most of the 96 cases, the department has lost hope of recovering even a single rupee.

As per the Income Tax Act 1961, the department has the power to recover pending income tax under Sections 222, 227, 229 and 232.

"We take several steps soon after finding that an individual or a company has not paid the tax. First we send reminders to the address and then send our officials speak to the assessees and try to attach some of their assets. When all doors are closed, we include the assesse in the defaulter list," a senior I-T official told TOI. There is no fixed time-frame to recover the tax from an assessee, but the department has a separate wing to recover the tax.

"We have several senior officials in the recovery wing. They have powers to attach movable and immovable assets as well as personal assets like jewels etc of the assessee. If a person or a company does not have any of the above the assessee will be declared bankrupt. But the department will declare bankruptcy only if the assessee produces the required notice," said the official.

With regard to Uday Acharya, he has not paid income tax for the assessment years from 1997-98. "In the case of Uday, the assessee died and the department must have followed it up with his heirs. But they too must have been bankrupt. So the department included Uday as well as his sons in the defaulter list," said chartered accountant and ICAI council member G Sekar.

There are 69 assessees who have been named as not traceable, while 24 are bankrupt.

Though Hyderabad has the highest number of defaulters it is Mumbai and Navi Mumbai regions put together which have the highest amount pending as tax. The defaulters in this region owe Rs 1,062.89 crore as tax. In Hyderabad, the 25 defaulters owe Rs 1,028.67 crore.

[The Times of India]