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I-T dept attaches benami properties worth Rs 3,500 crore

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New Delhi: The Income Tax Department (ITD) said it has attached more than 900 benami properties including flats, shops, jewellery and vehicles worth over Rs 3,500 crore.
ITD said in a statement that it has stepped up action under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, which came into force from November 1, 2016.
The Act provides for provisional attachment and subsequent confiscation of benami properties, whether movable or immovable.
It also allows for prosecution of the beneficial owner, the benamidar and the abettor to benami transactions, which may result in rigorous imprisonment up to 7 years and a fine of up to 25 per cent of fair market value of the property.
The department had set up 24 dedicated Benami Prohibition Units (BPUs) under its Investigation Directorates all over India in May, 2017 to ensure swift action in respect of Benami properties.
“Due to intensive efforts undertaken by the Department, provisional attachment has been made in more than 900 cases of properties under the Act. These include plots of land, flats, shops, jewellery, vehicles, deposits in bank accounts, fixed deposits etc,” the statement said.
The value of properties under attachment is more than Rs 3,500 crore including immovable properties of more than Rs 2,900 crore, the department said.
Benami literally means ‘without a name’. An asset without a legal owner or a fictitious owner is called benami.
The original Benami Act was introduced in 1988 for prevention of black money and was amended in 2016 to prohibit benami transactions and provides for confiscating benami properties.
ITD said that in five cases, the provisional attachments of Benami properties, amounting to more than Rs 150 crore have been confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority.
In one such case, it was established that a real estate company had acquired about 50 acres of land, valued at more than Rs 110 crore, using the names of certain persons of no means as benamidars, it said without naming the firm.
This was corroborated from the sellers of the land as well as the brokers involved.
In another case, post demonetisation, two assessees were found depositing demonetised currency into multiple bank accounts in the names of their employees and associates to be ultimately remitted to their bank accounts. The total amount attempted to be remitted to the beneficial owners was about Rs 39 crore.
In another case, a cash amount of Rs 1.11 crore was intercepted from a vehicle with a person who denied the ownership of this cash. Subsequently, no one claimed ownership of this cash and it was held to be benami property by the Adjudicating Authority.
“The Department is committed to continue its concerted drive against black money and action against Benami transactions will continue to be intensified,” the statement added.
The Benami Act defines a benami transaction as a transaction where a property is held by or transferred to a person, but has been provided for or paid by another person.
The 2016 Bill amended this definition to add other transactions which qualify as benami. It includes properties where the transaction is made in a fictitious name, or the owner denies knowledge of the ownership of the property, or the person providing the consideration for the property is not traceable.


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

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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

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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

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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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