Forget a crackdown on black money or money-laundering, the income-tax (I-T) department is barely managing to handle routine work needs such as tax refunds.
The department is reeling under a staff crunch, with more than a fifth of its posts lying vacant. Nearly 10,000 positions are yet to be filled and the I-T staff association says new units such as the directorate of criminal investigation and the terror financing unit make little sense in the face of such a staff shortage.
"About 22% posts are lying vacant out of nearly 53,000 posts in the I-T department, and we've written to CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) chairman that despite the finance minister's assurances, these posts could not be filled," AK Kanojia, president of the I-T Employees Federation, told HT.
The shortage has hit tax recovery, refunds, survey and search operations, and the tracking of those not filing returns, sources said.
The shortage of recovery officers led to the uncollected portion of tax demands touching Rs 2.63 lakh crore in 2010-11, according to a finding of the Comptroller and Auditor General that is yet to be presented to Parliament.
"The government seems not too serious on dealing with the black-money issue because with such an acute staff shortage, how can the department cater to new units?" Kanojia said.
The standing committee on finance, headed by BJP's Murali Manohar Joshi, had in April 2010 pointed to staff shortages in the department at every level and recommended a "fast-track recruitment cell".
The recommendation had not been heeded to, a senior official, who didn't wish to be identified, told HT. "In 11 years, tax collection has gone up by 1,116% and returns filed by tax payers increased by 280%, increasing the workload on the staff," the officer said.