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Government to track social media accounts to identify tax evaders

Income tax department
Government of India is building a solution named Project Insight to track social media posts of individuals to prevent tax evasion.

If things go as per plans of the central government, your social media accounts might get tracked in order to extract information about your expenditures and lifestyle.

Starting August, the union government will start collecting data about the individuals from their social media accounts, which will give them an idea of the expenditures made by a particular individual. This is being done in order to collect significant information about the tax evaders without raiding their houses.

According to one of the officials aware of the developments, social media posts about holidays and buying of expensive gadgets & automobiles can be handy while tracking onto the individuals showing significantly less income on their income tax returns. This will help to identify the mismatch in income declaration and expenditure.

The official cited above said that the government has been working on developing such solution for over 7 years now. The total cost of “Project Insight” comes around ₹1000 crores and it will be built on the top of a biometric database that the government has been trying to build with the help of aadhaar. The database of biometric information will be the biggest in the world. The government has been pushing people to pay their taxes first up, however, despite being one of the fastest growing economies, the country hasn’t seen a positive trend in the revenues and tax collection.

According to experts working in similar domains, technologies like big data analytics need to play a bigger part in stopping the tax evasion and with the new initiatives, the government is setting its priorities right. A few countries like Australia, Belgium and Canada are already making use of big data to track the tax evasion and illegal money laundering. The United Kingdom has also launched a similar project, named as ‘Connect’. The project Connect was built with a total budget of 100 million pounds, however, it has prevented revenue loss of over 4.1 billion pounds since its inception in 2010.

The government of India has given the contract to L&T Infotech, which might deliver the finished product within the ongoing year.

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