The excise and taxation department has detected massive tax evasion by a Bathinda-based car dealer, who was not depositing the tax collected from customers with the state treasury. So far, the department has established a tax evasion of Rs. 17 crore.
Confirming this, Anurag Verma, excise and taxation commissioner (ETC), Punjab, said as per secret information, Mehta Motors, Bathinda, was not paying full tax on the new cars sold by the dealer. The said company was a dealer of Tata Motors, Renault, etc. Acting on the information, Verma directed the investigation wing of the department to obtain data from the manufacturers of these cars regarding the new vehicles sold by them through this dealer.
“When the data was received from car manufacturers, it was found that for period from April 1, 2009 to September 30, 2012, the dealer had purchased cars worth Rs175 crore from the manufacturers, but in the sale returns filed with the department he had shown purchases of only about Rs. 57 crore. Thus, the dealer suppressed his purchases and also the sales by a massive amount of Rs118 crore,” he said.
The dealer had collected the tax from the customers but instead of depositing it into the state treasury, kept it with himself, Verma said, adding that this had a tax liability of Rs15 crore.
The ETC said the department acted swiftly and confronted the dealer with the data and Rs. 12.5 crore has been recovered from him. “An inquiry into the entire episode has been entrusted to Bhawna Garg, IAS, additional excise and taxation commissioner.
Apart from suggesting action against the dealer, she would look into the fact as to who are the officers who did not bother to scrutinise the returns of such an important dealer for years together,” Verma said. He did not rule out the possibility of lodging an FIR against the said dealer. He added that a penalty of 200% of the tax evaded can be imposed on the dealer.
Smelling a bigger racket involving the officials and car dealers, Verma added that now the excise and taxation department has called the data from suspected dealers of four-wheelers and two-wheelers of the state and their VAT returns would be compared with this data. “If the department finds that any dealer has tried to defraud the exchequer, strictest possible action under the law would be taken against him,” he said.