FELONY OR MISTAKE?
The issue of claiming excessive refund on the Income Tax returns by several employees of J&K Government needs to be probed thoroughly because such a big number of staffers cannot commit such a fraud intentionally. Though until the matter is under investigation nothing could be said in a concrete manner but finding out whether this is a misdemeanor or a gaffe is yet to be seen. It is pertinent to mention that reports are suggesting that the Income Tax Department has detected fraud by several Government employees of various departments in Jammu and Kashmir who allegedly claimed excessive refund of the Income Tax returns without actually being eligible for the same. Consequently, the concerned department has approached the Chief Secretary, J&K Union Territory and asked the officer to issue directions to all such employees to update their Income Tax Return (ITR-U) along with penalty by March 31, 2023 or they will have to face coercive actions. Reportedly, the Income Tax Department has complete details of all such erring employees belonging to Education, Health, PDD, PHE, Cooperatives, Sports, Tourism, Industry, PWD, Police and other departments of J&K Government. As the government employees have the idea that it is not that simple to fraudulently claim bogus refunds there are chances that there is some kind of mistake but thorough investigation can only bring forth the true picture. Such cases of bogus refund may lead to scrutiny and recoveries of demand besides levy of penalty under Section 270A of the Income Tax Act, which is 200 percent of the tax levied. As per reports, the cases of employees having claimed bogus refunds may also be taken up for prosecution under Section 276C of IT Act. The matter came to light during analysis of the refunds issued in the Financial Year 2021-22 and 2022-23 in respect of Income Tax Returns filed by the taxpayers of Jammu and Kashmir for Assessment Years 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23. The matter is of grave concern and it is advisable that people who have filed wrong claims must rectify the error as soon as possible because the law will take its own course and no one is above it.