The income tax department conducted raids and surveys on over 50 jewellers and bullion traders across Maharashtra in the last one week for alleged tax evasion, sources familiar with the development said.
Sources said similar tax raids have been conducted on over 100 jewellers and bullion traders across the country.
In Mumbai alone the tax department raided and surveyed at least 17 wholesale jewellers on September 14. According to a jeweller who was surveyed by the tax department, the I-T officials have directed the jewellers to declare unaccounted excess stocks and cash
“The tax survey went on for over eight hours and the tax department has asked us to declare undisclosed stock,” said the owner of a wholesale jewellery firm on the condition of anonymity.
Most of the jewellers feel the tax raids and surveys are a fallout of the Income Declaration Scheme 2016 of the central government.
“The sudden increase in tax raids and surveys on jewellers could be because of a poor response to the IDS. Earlier in discussions with the tax department, the jewellers had asked for extension of deadline of IDS. The raids are a way to build pressure on jewellers,” said Kumar Jain, vice-president, Mumbai Jewellers Association.
Some of the firms which were raided by the tax department in Mumbai include Sangam Jewels N Gold LLP, Jugraj Kantilal & CO, SK Jewellers, Vasupati Jewellers and Palak Jewellers among others.
Under IDS which opened on June 1, black money holders can come clean by declaring the assets by September 30 and paying tax and penalty of 45 per thereafter. Those who fail to take advantage of the scheme will have to face stringent actions, including imprisonment.
The scheme promises immunity by exempting declared assets from Wealth Tax, scrutiny/enquiry and prosecution under Income-tax Act/Wealth-tax act, and immunity from Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988. Since the beginning of the year jewellers have been protesting against several new rules introduced by the government to curb the flow of black money.
Initially they had opposed the rule which makes quoting of Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards mandatory on any transaction of Rs 2 lakh and above. Subsequently, the jewellers went on a nation-wide strike demanding withdrawal of the 1 per cent excise duty on gold and diamond jewellery announced in the Union Budget of 2016.