Seeking to dispel the impression that the Income Tax Department is harassing the industry, the finance ministry on Friday said that the number of search and seizure cases has come down in April-October 2011.
"Under the Income Tax Act, search and seizure is conducted on the basis of specific and credible information regarding tax evasion, and after conducting necessary verification," the Ministry said, while reacting to media reports that I-T department is resorting to indiscriminate and increased raids on India Inc.
"The number of search warrants executed has declined compared to the last year," it said, adding that during April-October, 2,190 search warrants were executed as against 2,548 during the corresponding last year.
It further said that income amounting to Rs 18,750 crore was detected and admitted by the persons in searches in the last two years and the current fiscal it was Rs 3,887 crore.
It added that the number of surveys at business premises (which do not involve entering residences) has also reduced.
It also said that surveys conducted were 5,777 in 2008-09, 4,680 in 2009-10 and 3,911 in 2010-11 and the income detected and admitted by persons surveyed was Rs 3,060 crore, Rs 4,857 crore, Rs 5,894 crore, respectively.
In the current financial year, the release said, "only 1,271 surveys have been conducted up to September 2011."
Out of 3.5 crore taxpayers, searches and surveys in about 7,000 cases which is "one in 5,000 tax payers. Therefore, the impressions sought to be created, that raids are being conducted by the tax department indiscriminately and have been increasing in the recent months, have not factual basis whatsoever."
"The large amounts of undeclared incomes admitted by the persons searched or surveyed justify the action taken by the department," the ministry added.
Pointing out that payment of taxes is both legal and civic responsibility, the finance ministry said, "It is the endeavour of the Income Tax Department to collect taxes in an unobtrusive manner.
"In some cases intrusive action become unavoidable. It is natural that persons being investigated will feel uncomfortable, even harassed."