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Over 400 J&K officials booked in income tax refund scam

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Srinagar: On a complaint from the Income Tax Department, the Jammu and Kashmir police’s crime branch has registered two first information reports (FIRs) against 405 individuals, including a chartered accountant, for fraudulently claiming refund of tax deductions. An amount of Rs 16.64 crore has been allegedly refunded with fake and inactive Accounts Office Identification Numbers (AINs) and Tax Deduction Account Numbers (TANs) of different Government Departments in the Union Territory.

The FIRs have been registered for criminal investigation after the Income Tax Department detected refund on fake claims in an enquiry conducted by Joint Commissioner IT, Mananchira Kozhikode (Kerala). The information, according to highly placed authoritative sources, was shared with the Commissioner of Income Tax (TDS) Chandigarh.

Subsequently the Income Tax Officer (TDS) Srinagar carried out further detailed investigation by recording the statements under Section 131 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, of various persons.  Allegedly one Imran Dara, a chartered accountant, who used three fake AINs and one inactive AIN of four Government departments and uploaded bogus amounts of payments as well as TDS on several TANs.

Dara, subsequently credited the refunds to 1,208 PANs of his friends, relatives and acquaintances. Of them, 404 PAN holders had filed Income Tax returns and they got the TDS refunds deposited in their bank accounts which were withdrawn later.

The investigation further revealed that four AINs and nine TANs were used by Imran Dara to execute the scam. The AINs belonged to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate Office, Dawar, Gurez Bandipora, Principal Government Higher Secondary School Kupwara, Executive Engineer, Sumbal, and Executive Engineer R&B, Right River Circular Road Division, Srinagar.

It was detected that the TANs used in the scam had been allotted to Executive Engineer PWD, R&B, Right River Circular Road Division Srinagar, Executive Engineer PWD, R&B Division Sumbal, Principal Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Kupwara, SDM office Dawar Gurez, Principal Government Higher Secondary School Badagam, Gurez, Headmaster Government High School Bulginder Bandipora, Headmaster Government Secondary School Kilshay Gurez, Headmaster High School Chorwan Gurez, Executive Engineer Irrigation Division Sumbal Sonawari, Executive Engineer Irrigation Division Kulgam, Assistant Controller, Legal Metrology Shopian and Government Secondary School Boniyar Bandipora.

Enquiries revealed that the TAN holders were mostly schoolteachers who didn’t file any TDS returns even as tax had been deducted from their salaries at the source of disbursement. Moreover, the Drawing and Disbursing Officers were unaware that their TANs were being used for bogus refund claims by filing false returns in their name.

“The total amount suspected to be involved in bogus refunds was approximately Rs 88 crore spread over four years-2018-19 to 2021-22. During the detailed investigation, a total of 1208 PANs were identified which were to be used to carry out bogus refunds”, sources said. However, out of 1208 distinct PANs only 410 persons filed ITRs and out of 410 ITRs, refunds in 404 cases totaling Rs 16.64 crore have been issued for Assessment Year 2018-19 and 2020-21.

“It clearly indicates that chartered accountant Imran Dara and 404 PAN holders were the ultimate beneficiaries as they alone had received the refund back”, being the persons who had received the refund amount”, said a source.