Over 2,700 entities have declared agricultural income of over Rs 1 crore in the last nine assessment years with the Income Tax department initiating a tax evasion probe in select cases.
IT department Assessing Officers across the country, as part of a recent directive, have been asked to "verify" a select number of cases of over Rs one crore agricultural income declaration between assessment years 2011-12 to 2013-14.
The move comes in view of a PIL filed in the Patna High Court where concerns have been raised that some of these declarants could be engaged in routing their unaccounted or illegal funds in the "garb" of farm income thereby leading to instances of money laundering.
Agricultural income is exempt from Income Tax in India.
A data in this regard said a total of 2,746 entities have declared agricultural income of above Rs 1 crore in the last nine AYs, between 2007-08 to 2015-16 and a probe has to be conducted for a block period of three AYs (2011-12 to 2013-14).
The department suspects that in many cases where declarants have claimed tax exemption under this category could either be because of a data entry error on their part or a genuine case of tax evasion.
"The taxman has been directed to only probe those cases between AY 2011-12 to 2013-14 which have been selected for scrutiny, based on red flag indicators.
"A report has to be sent to the CBDT by March 20 and it will be subsequently presented to the Patna High Court for further action," a senior official said.
The entire exercise is being undertaken to verify the "genuineness" of the agricultural income claim made by these individuals and entities, the official said.