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CAG raps I-T dept for spending Rs 1,000 cr on rent despite having own land






New Delhi: The income-tax department, grappling with tax slippages, seems to be also lagging when it comes to optimum utilisation of its own assets. The department’s spends on office spaces in Mumbai — considered to be the most expensive real estate market in India — have been objected to by the Indian Audit and Accounts Service.

The audit office, a department of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, in its draft report, has highlighted that the tax department spent Rs 1,000 crore on rentals despite possessing a huge land bank at Nariman Point since the 1990s, sources said. The audit office has sought details of the department’s rental expenses in the past two decades for compiling a final report, they said.

The tax department was given the land at Mumbai’s posh location, measuring 2,786 square metre, with a minimum capacity of 100,000 sq ft, in 1992. Instead of constructing an office building, the department recently took a few floors on rent at the nearby Air India building.


tions such as Piramal Chambers at Lower Parel, Mittal Court at Nariman Point. The rental expenses of these properties run into crores of rupees.

A query sent to CAG office did not elicit any response.

After the audit office’s objection, the Mumbai tax department is learnt to be preparing a preliminary estimation to construct an office building with advance facilities for officers and even taxpayers. A proposal will soon be sent to the Central Board of Direct Taxes for approval.

According to sources, the tax department had invited bids for awarding construction and designing of the project three years back. Then the estimated construction cost was around Rs 120 crore, excluding the service charges and cess. The department had asked the bidders to execute the project in 24 months. However, this never materialised. The new proposal might estimate development cost at above Rs 200 crore, said a person in the know.

“(Not utilising the land for) the past two decades, is criminal waste of money… This is because of sheer bureaucratic delay and negligence,” a tax official said.

chart This land got in-principle approval for construction in 2008. But the matter was stuck with the state due to issues with the floor space index (FSI). At present, the tax department has an approval for 3.5 FSI. “Initially, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had two issues with the land development. One, the proposed FSI, and second, meeting the Coastal Regulation Zone norms,” said an official familiar with the development.

The official said the department had earlier proposed 1:7 FSI, which was rejected. Later, the department brought it down to 1:3, which was accepted. Despite this, the development never took off. The department owns another huge land at Bandra Kurla Complex, alloted in 2005 with a building potential of another 100,000 sq ft. The Central Public Works department took the job of building a structure and completed it two years back.



CBDT refutes social media rumours on ITR filing, says no change in IT return forms




New Delhi: The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has refuted rumours in social media regarding difficulties in filing return of income by taxpayers, stating that no change has been made in income-tax return (ITR) forms.

“No changes have been made in any of the Income-tax Return (ITR) forms including ITR-2 and ITR-3 since the notification made on April 1 2019, i.e. on the 1st day of the Assessment Year 2019-20,” CBDT said.

“It is reiterated that there are no changes in the notified ITR forms; only the utility has been updated to facilitate the taxpayers. Therefore, the assertion that numerous changes have been made in ITR-2 and ITR-3 on July 11, 2019, does not give a correct picture,” it added.


There were reports in social media that the taxpayers were facing difficulties in filing return of income in ITR-2 & ITR-3 due to large scale changes in the ITR form on July 11.

CBDT stated that the software utility for e-filing of all the ITR forms were released long back. The utility for e-filing ITR-2 and ITR-3 was released on May 2 and on May 10 respectively.

However, the software utility update is a dynamic process and is continuously taken up as per the feedback received from the users/filers to ease their experience in electronic filing of returns, it added.

CBDT further clarified that the updating of utility does not hamper filing of return as the taxpayers are allowed to file using the utility which is available at that point of time.

“For example, more than 85 lakh taxpayers have filed returns in ITR-1 till date by using the said utility, which has also undergone update later. Therefore, the impression that the taxpayers are not able to file return due to changes in ITR form is also not correct as more than 1.38 crore taxpayers have already filed their returns by using the utility released till date. Even though the utility is being updated regularly to provide ease to taxpayers, the returns filed by using the previous version of utility will continue to be valid,” it said.

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Lagarde resigns as IMF chief, starting race for her successor




Washington: International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde submitted her resignation from the global crisis lender, citing more clarity about her nomination to lead the European Central Bank as European legislators approved a new top bureaucrat.

Lagarde said in a statement her resignation was effective Sept 12, firing the starting gun for the IMF’s search for her successor, which is likely to be another European.

“With greater clarity now on the process for my nomination as ECB President and the time it will take, I have made this decision in the best interest of the Fund,” Lagarde said in a statement.


She said her resignation would expedite the selection for the next head of the IMF.

IMF succession is expected to be a major topic of discussion among G7 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting on Wednesday and Thursday in Chantilly, France, near Paris amid concerns that slowing global growth and trade conflicts will pressure vulnerable economies.

Lagarde’s resignation, first reported by Reuters, came two weeks after her nomination on July 2 for the ECB’s top job. She did not immediately quit the IMF because of uncertainty over whether the new European Parliament would support her and other new EU leadership positions, sources told Reuters.

Her nomination was part of a package of top officials agreed by EU governments that included German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen as European Commission president, who drew Green party opposition.

Later on Tuesday, von der Leyen was approved by the European Parliament in a 383-327 vote.

The European parliament will hold a nonbinding vote on Lagarde’s appointment, which is expected to be finalized by EU leaders at a regular summit on Oct 17-18.

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Centre to launch portal to help Jet Airways staff find jobs, in touch with SpiceJet and IndiGo




Mumbai: The government may not have extended support to now-defunct Jet Airways, but it has promised to facilitate employment to job-less airline staff.

The Civil Aviation Ministry is in touch with other private airlines such as SpiceJet and IndiGo to assist Jet staff get meaningful employment.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that a website would be launched listing staff of Jet Airways and help find employment in other private entities.


“We are also producing a website which is ready. I wish I had the capacity of telling you that the website is up. Every employee would be listed there and the prospects for their re-employment or employment will be facilitated by the government,” Puri said while replying to Members in the Rajya Sabha on the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The Minister, however, said that government cannot assume responsibility for a business failure conducted by a private party.

Referring to Jet Airways, Puri said he was sensitive to (business) failure and willing to see what can be done within the governmental system to cushion that failure.

“But to suggest that a private sector entity goes belly up and the government has to take the responsibility I don`t think that is correct,” the Minister said.

Run out of cash, Jet Airways had suspended its entire operations on April 17. Subsequently, the government re-allocated its slots and foreign traffic rights to rival carriers. Lenders to the airline led by State Bank of India (SBI) have initiated bankruptcy proceedings against it after all attempts to rope in a buyer failed.

Before the airline suspended its operation, it had nearly 20,000 staff on its rolls. Several hundreds of them are learnt to have joined other carriers.

Replying to Members on the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019, he also countered a comment that airfares had gone up.

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