The Income Tax Department will sign an MoU with counter-terrorism platform National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) to facilitate automatic exchange of information linked to bank accounts, PAN, tax returns and any other “mutually agreed” information with 10 agencies — Central Bureau of Investigation, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs, Cabinet Secretariat, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Directorate General of GST Intelligence, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and National Investigation Agency (NIA).
In a separate order, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) also notified four agencies — Cabinet Secretariat, IB, NCB and NIA — for disclosure of any information regarding tax assesses under Section 138 (1) of the Income-tax Act. At present, the Income Tax Department already shares information on tax assessees with over 50 notified agencies, including Registrar of Companies, Director of FIU, officers of the rank of Joint Director and above dealing with Foreign Exchange Management Act and Prevention of Money Laundering Act in the Enforcement Directorate, and Securities and Exchange Board of India.
The furnishing and receiving of information to and from these central agencies with NATGRID will include PAN details, Tax Deduction Account Number (TAN) details, bank account details, return summary, TDS summary (as per MoU) and any other mutually agreed information. “While furnishing the information, the specified income-tax authority shall form an opinion that sharing of such information is necessary for the purposes of enabling these agencies/bodies to perform its functions under their respective laws,” the CBDT order said.
The other notification of four agencies will permit the tax department to share any information of a taxpayer on automatic basis. “Inclusion of enforcement agencies might help track those who could be having illicit income or income from terror-related activities but may be generally skipping the radar of agencies,” Naveen Wadhwa, DGM, Taxmann said.
Other officials such as Class I Officers, Reserve Bank of India (regional office, Ahmedabad); Karnataka State Vigilance Commission (Bangalore); officers of or above the rank of superintendent of police in the Department of Vigilance, Government of Bihar; Director/IGP, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Government of Maharashtra; Uttar Pradesh Vigilance Commissioner; Director, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Gujarat; Joint Secretary (Marketing), Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas; Inspector General of Police, Economic Offences Wing, Kerala; officers of the rank of secretary in various states/union territories responsible for implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 have also been among the list of agencies notified earlier under this section of the I-T Act.
Earlier, the I-T Act provided for sharing of information on income tax assessees with other notified agencies, but then it meant that information could only be passed to a person who was an assessee with the Department and that too when the assessment relating to information to be furnished had been completed. This anomaly, which restricted automatic exchange of information for assessees that might be showing income below exemption limit, was corrected in 1990, when the Department amended the law to allow exchange of “any information received or obtained by an income-tax authority”.