Out in the open: The income-tax refund scam, Bengaluru

Another scam, another day. While the country celebrates Republic day and the spirit of India, the Income-tax refund Scam comes out in the open. The scam involves employees of some of the biggest companies in India’s Silicon Valley. IBM and Infosys have all been found with their hand in the pot. Employees of these and other companies have been found filing false tax returns.

The income-tax refund scam

The scam was uncovered during the investigation by Income-tax department of Karnataka and Goa. That too at the residential address of the Chartered Accountant in Bengaluru. The CA made false claims of over thousands of employees in the name of ‘loss of house property’, especially making the return amount around Rs. 18 Crores. The Scam includes employees from reputed companies like IBM, Infosys, Cisco, Vodafone, ICICI bank, etc. of 50 such companies. The employees claimed refunds by filing returns on their individual incomes even though they hadn’t faced any real losses. It’s interesting to note that some of the claims made were evidenced in Whatsapp messages as well.

This is not only a betrayal of trust but also means jail term for the accused. The taxpayers are currently informed to be aware of the fraudulent schemes in place. The tax department made the filing of returns an automated process in the trust of the taxpayer’s honesty. Such a scam takes the initiative two steps back. This might just be the surface of something much larger, suggest the investigators. It isn’t fair to the honest taxpayer and also maligns the image of these big companies with high goodwill.

‘Trust’ seems to be a hard thing to ask of the citizens of India, till now we’ve looked at people of high profiles in the cases such as those of the Panama Papers. Fraudulent practices are so deeply entrenched they go beyond the higher rungs of society to common people, who roam the streets. Corruption is a deeply entrenched concept in the Indian society. It’s not the scale of the scam that we should worry about or ‘who’ is involved. There are no big scams and small scams. There are just scams that seem to take place in our country every other day. Where has the element of surprise with regards to a scam gone?