The income tax department is "verifying" over Rs 4.5 lakh crore of suspicious deposits made by 18 lakh people, in the wake of demonetisation, and will send 'non-statutory' letters to those who have not responded to its text messages and email queries, seeking an explanation.
Big data analysis by the tax department has revealed that deposits of more than Rs 2 lakh each, totalling Rs 10 lakh crore, were made in about 1 crore bank accounts in the 50-day window after the demonetisation decision that cancelled 86 percent of currency in circulation.
Of these, it picked up 18 lakh deposits of over Rs 5 lakh each for examination as they prima facie looked suspicious, an official told PTI in New Delhi.
Code-naming the scrutiny 'Operation Clean Money', it sent text messages and emails to these 18 lakh people, asking them to explain the source of the funds by February 15 on its e-filing portal.
So far, it has received replies from over 7 lakh people, most of whom accepted making such deposits and the department will issue letters to the remaining nudging them to explain the source of deposits on the e-filing portal, he said.
"More than 99 percent of the 7 lakh respondents have accepted that the data are correct," the official said. As many as 5 lakh people out of these 18 lakh who who were notified have not registered on the e-filing portal, he said.
The income tax department can look at taking any penal action only after receiving responses to non-statutory letters; lack of response to text messages or email communication does not serve as a legal backing for initiating action.
The official said that of the Rs 10 lakh crore deposits made in 1 crore bank accounts, Rs 4.5 lakh crore came under the tax department's scanner because as they appeared to not match with previous income returns filed by the depositors.