Income tax sleuths in Uttar Pradesh are physically verifying possible misuse of zero-balance accounts under the Jan Dhan scheme after last week’s demonetisation.
The accounts opened under the two-year-old Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) are presumably in hot demand among a section now wanting to park in them undisclosed wealth to escape tax in the aftermath of the November 9 withdrawal of two high-denomination banknotes.
According to the PMJDY website, almost a fourth of the Jan Dhan accounts opened in the country’s most populous state till November 2 were zero-balance. It is 23% to be precise — 86,47,162 out of the 3,77,11,410. Of these, three-fifths (2,28,81,362 accounts, or 61%) were opened in rural UP.
Across the country, an estimated 25.51 crore bank accounts were opened under the PMJDY run by the Union finance ministry since August 28, 2014, to primarily ensure common people affordable access to banking savings, deposit accounts, remittance, credit, insurance and pension.
Senior I-T officials, who were part of the team that began visiting banks in Lucknow’s Old City and Aminabad areas on Thursday night, told HT that such verification exercises will be a “regular feature”. Jan Dhan accounts with deposits exceeding Rs 50,000 could be scrutinised, they added.
It wasn’t clear if any bank accounts were seized or marked for ‘irregular’ or ‘suspicious’ transaction.
Besides accounts under the PMJDY, taxmen will also look into regular dormant accounts that were revived since the government’s decision to pull Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 out of circulation.
“We will also look into whether banks were getting all details about those turning up to exchange money listed with them,” an official said. The government has said deposits till Rs 2.5 lakh will not attract tax.
“We will be marking those wanting to tweak this rule to adjust their unaccounted wealth,” a senior official said.
The exercise was aimed to make the “unscrupulous nervous”, another taxman added, “but genuine people, whether holding Jan Dhan or regular accounts, will have nothing to fear”.