Kannur: There is a substantial increase in evasion of income tax on gold in Kerala, according to official statistics.
The State GST Intelligence, which reported 133 cases of I-T evasion in the previous financial year, registered 113 such cases in the first four months of the current fiscal year, despite the State being under COVID-19-induced lockdown for two months.
Sources said the department had remitted to the government gold impounded in 53 cases under Section 130 of the GST Act. The gold was confiscated during the four-month period for tax evasion or for having no proper documents.
The current fiscal has shown a marked increase in cases of tax evasion from the previous one. Only 15 cases were registered during the previous financial year, compared to 53 in the April to July period of FY 2021-22. As many as 18.13 kilograms of gold worth Rs 8.26 crore was seized last year, compared to 13.8 kilograms of gold valued at Rs 6.42 crore this year.
Statistics also revealed that the department had so far seized Rs 40.9 crore of gold this fiscal, as against Rs 41.8 crore last year.
The increase in cases has been attributed to the intensified inspection of jewellery shops and gold jewellery manufacturing units by the Intelligence unit. Customers' reluctance to demand receipts, too, have fuelled tax evasion. The squads have also been monitoring transit points such as bus stands and railway stations.
Currently, e-Way bills are not required for gold. Avoiding delivery challans while shipping gold, too, has led to tax evasion. The GST Intelligence had conducted a special drive last year for finding tax evasion, besides announcing a reward - up to 20 per cent of the value of the impounded goods, including gold - for those providing credible information on such illegal practices. For gold, the reward has been fixed at Rs 1,500 a gram.
Gold jewellers' organization, however, is not impressed. They said it would lead to snitching on anyone having gold in his/her possession. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had the other day announced that the inspection on jewellery shops would be further intensified to prevent tax evasion by players in the gold jewellery sector.
The government had also considered the possibility of handing over visuals from CCTV cameras installed in jewellery shops to the GST Department and police. Though the GST is three per cent, the high value of gold has been cited as the main reason for evading tax.