Posting photos of new car, fancy dinner on Facebook? Income Tax dept is now watching

Tax evasion

Tax evasion is a big problem in India. So now government is not only hoping to monitor how much money people get into their bank accounts and how much they take out but also wants to monitor the Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites to see what people are buying. By keeping a note of the Facebook posts that show the spending pattern, the government hopes to find a mismatch in declared and actual income so that it can catch tax evaders, says a new report.

According to the Livemint, a business news website, the plan to monitor social media for the spending pattern of Indians is part of what the government calls Project Insight. “Built over seven years at a cost of about Rs1,000 crore ($156 million), Project Insight will complement the world’s largest biometric identity database and India’s most ambitious tax overhaul as policy makers try to get more people to pay up,” notes the report.

In other words, next time when you post photos on Facebook saying how much you were enjoying champagne at the fancy Friday evening dinner, or how much fun you had in Greece this summer, understand that the posts will also be seen by the income tax department. All will be fine if your latest car has been bought with the income that you have declared with the income tax department. But if it is a spending beyond your means, chances are that tax department may connect the dots and ask you to explain how you got the money to buy the car or that piece of diamond jewellery.

This is not the first time that the government has talked about using big data and connecting dots to catch tax evaders. While presenting the latest union budget, finance minister Arun Jaitley categorically said that the government would be using big data to go after people who don’t pay taxes.

“Technology¬† is a boon for mankind. We plan to use technology in taxation department in a big way to make life simpler for a law abiding citizen, and also for data mining to track tax evaders,” Jaitley had said in February. “After demonetisation the preliminary analysis of the data received related to deposits made in old currency presents a revealing picture. This data mining will help us expand the tax net.”