Income-Tax (IT) department of Andhra Pradesh has no record of the total refund claims either cleared or pending with it, over the last 10 years. This fact comes when IT officials while responding to an Right to Information (RTI) Â query filed with the department earlier this month claimed that that it did not maintain a register of refund claims and was thus unable to furnish such details. Queries about the total worth of these refunds (pending and cleared) also remained unanswered.
According to the Times of India Report: To gather data on refund cases pending with the department RTI application was filed on 2nd April. Sources allege that several returns filed back in 1998-99 too by taxpayers with the state office are still awaiting clearance.
Former IT officials find fault with the department for not responding to the RTI query adequately. They say that information is readily available with the state office. “The department has a complete record of the returns cleared by it. Even the total worth of these claims is available on the official system,” said B Shanthi Kumar, a retired I-T official. He, however, noted that the central processing centre in Bangalore and not the state office maintain an account of the pending cases.
“But that does not justify the response as the RTI Act allows an office to source the information, or even redirect the application to another department, in case it does not have the data. That the state IT office did not consider that option only shows its unwillingness to furnish the information,” observed C J Karira, an RTI activist from the city. He even pointed out how the department had overlooked a few queries in the application (pertaining to total number of pending claims) amounting to ‘deemed denial’ (refusal to give data) under Section 7(2) of the RTI Act.
Tax experts from the city said that the response only further reiterated the poor state of affairs at the government department. They even accused I-T officials of concealing information for fear of being caught for under-performance. According to them, the total valuation of outstanding returns pending with the AP office run into a few crores of rupees if not more. “To ensure that such facts are not revealed to the public, the department avoided the application,” said a tax expert.
Experts noted that TDS records and reports were routinely submitted by the state office to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), New Delhi. “When a tax payer files returns, there is no TDS certificate or annexure attached to it. The assesse’s file is located by the department online. This only goes on to show that the office has every detail punched into its system,” said R Mittal, a practicing chartered accountant from Hyderabad.
G Rajeshwar Rao, chief commissioner-3 (now holding additional charge as CC-1) of the AP I-T department maintained that the department does not keep a record of tax refunds filed with it. He refused to comment further on the issue.