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Ludhiana: Taxation lawyer, I-T employee arrested in refund scam

Tax refunds to the tune of Rs 2 crore were fraudulently claimed by the accused, say I­T officials

punjab Updated: Apr 13, 2018 18:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Ludhiana news,taxation,income tax

A day after the Income Tax Department conducted survey at the house of a taxation lawyer which had pointed towards an IT refund scam of Rs 2 crore, police arrested him and an IT employee on Thursday .

The accused were identified as lawyer Ashish Aggarwal and department data entry operator Kulwant Singh.

“Based on the complaint of the Income Tax department, two people were arrested and booked under Sections 420 (cheating ), 465 (forgery), 468 (forgery for cheating), 471 (using forged document) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code,” said inspector Gurvinder Singh, SHO, Division Number 2 police station.

The issue came to the fore when the department noticed higher number of refund claims as compared to the previous financial year.

“The taxation lawyer was involved in using personal details of more than 300 people for fraudulent tax refund claims. The department took incriminating documents under its possession,” said an IT official.

IT officials, privy to the investigation, confirmed that data entry operators had come under scanner for giving unauthorised access to outsiders.

“We noticed that many citizens who don’t fall in the income tax payee slab had claimed for refunds. Most of these applications bore the same address where the refund (pay order) had to be delivered, which made us suspicious. We suspected that our own data entry operator provided Remote Sensing Authorisation to outsiders who tampered with the database,” said an officer on the condition of anonymity.

The department was also probing the involvement of other tax professionals and for the time duration for which the accused lawyer was involved in the scam.

Sources said the accused was on the radar of the department and officials waited till March 31, the last day of filing of ITR.

Department officials also confirmed to the correspondent that being a professional tax practitioner, the accused had access to details of his old clients, which he used for fraudulently filing claims.

“The accused had access to personal details of many tax payers. He misused the information to claim returns without their knowledge. He also used his personal address to receive the tax refunds in almost every case,” said the department official.

Income tax chief commissioner Binay K Jha could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.

Misuse of data raises concerns

The fraud has reignited debate over the data privacy issue. The department officials didn’t respond to queries raised by this correspondent.

The misuse of personal details of clients to claim refund is one-of-a-kind case in the city and many professional tax practitioners blame the department for not ensuring data privacy. “It is unfortunate on the part of the accused who misused the data of his clients to fraudulently claim refunds. However, the department is also responsible for not securing personal data of every tax payer,” said Jatinder Khurana, a professional tax lawyer.

First Published: Apr 13, 2018 18:10 IST