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Last updated: November 18, 2016 at 11:58 am

Income Tax Dept Will Mine Facebook, Twitter Data To Nab Tax Evaders Via Project Insight!

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If you are an avid social media user, and love to flaunt your overseas travels and expensive iPhones but fail to declare accurate income to evade tax, then there is some bad news for you. Income Tax Department is all set to unleash Project Insight, which will use data mining, big data and analytics to scoop out tax evaders from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Last year, Income Tax Dept. had floated tenders to acquire high end analytics tool to scan social media profiles of rich Indians, and this year, hints are being given out that full scale data mining operations would start from next fiscal year.

An unnamed official from Income Tax department said, “If you flaunt that you have gone on an expensive trip to a foreign location on Facebook and other social media, we will gather that information to match it with your income declared..”

Project Insight would be rigorously executed effective financial year 2017-18; and an approximate budget of Rs 1000 crore has been allocated for the same.

Your Social Media Profile Would Be Audited Now

Traditionally, Income Tax Dept. conducted random searches, known as tax raids at homes/offices of those citizens who declared less income to evade tax. But now, as every information is easily available on social media, technology would be used to conduct such raids online, right into your personal social media profiles.

As per incoming reports, IT Dept. has chalked out an extensive and detailed blueprint to track tax evaders using technology such as enterprise data warehouse, data mining, web mining, predictive modeling, data exchange, master data management, centralised processing, compliance management and case analytics capabilities.

Another set of reports indicate that L&T Infotech has been roped in to consult Income Tax dept. for scanning and profiling tax evaders using their social media data.

Just like Google ranks every website based on their internal factors for search engine results, IT Dept. will rank such tax evaders, depending on the level of income mismatch found based on the actual filing of data, and the expenses incurred (as found from their social media postings). This ranking would help them to prioritize their actions and counter-actions.

For instance, if a businessman flaunts their Europe trip and Rolex watches on his Facebook account, but has declared income of only Rs 10 lakh per annum, then IT Dept. will right away trace that businessman and demand some strict answers.

The official furthersaid, “Project Insight will essentially do data mining. It will use inputs from various sources. Social media would be one of those..”

PAN Card Would Be The Unique Identifier

Humanly, it is not possible to track 120 crore+ population, hence technology is being used to track the income and spending of tax evaders. In this mission, PAN Card of every citizen would be used as the ‘unique identifier’, which will help IT Dept. to pinpoint the tax evaders with high level of precision.

Besides, various data points from other Govt. departments such as excise department, Central Board of Direct Taxes, house and wealth tax departments and banks would be collated and collaborated to find out those who spending much more than they are declaring.

Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha had earlier said aboutProject Insight: “This will enhance the department’s ability to monitor the flow of funds and will provide an audit trail of high value transactions and curb circulation of black money..”

At a time when only 4-5% of Indians are paying income tax, this is indeed an excellent step to increase participation of Indian citizens in nation building.

Do you think data mining and big data can assist Income Tax department to catch tax evaders in India? What if rich people stop posting their extravaganzas online? Do share your views by commenting right here!

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