From 1st April, Flaunting Luxurious Lifestyle On Social Media Can Result In Tax Raid With ‘Project Insight’

The advent of blogging, Instagramming and social media influencers have given rise to a spate of new millennial professionals. You can’t deny that social media holds a certain allure and even addiction in our lives. Hence, people seldom hesitate to share intimate details of their lives, luxury purchases and even vacations online.

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So when the Income Tax department sought to gain a comprehensive insight into citizens; they realised social media profiles were the perfect way to do so. You see, developing countries like India often struggle to enforce tax compliance nationwide with people using varied forms of ‘jugaad’ as a means for tax evasion.

Well, life as we know it is about to change on the income tax front and it all begins on April 1st for the new financial year. Rapid developments on the hush-hush ‘Project Insight’ indicate there are to be major changes in Indian taxation.

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Flummoxed by seemingly affluent denizens whose spending patterns don’t match their income declarations; the government founded Project Insight. Essentially a tax tracker, it uses big data meticulously curated over the years at a purported cost of Rs 1,000 crore.

The government now seeks to use a spate of non-traditional yet astute sources of information. They have virtual info along with data from social media sites like Facebook and Instagram as a part of their arsenal. According to ET, the IT department green-lighted taxmen to access the Insight portal starting March 15.

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Wondering how this impacts you?

Well, if you’ve posted photos of foreign vacations, luxury watches or new cars on your social media handles, beware. If it appears to be out of your league the taxmen shall bring you under scrutiny. Big data might just deduce a mismatch between your earnings and expenditure.

In case of an apparent mismatch, the next step is a home or office tax raid for you. In an effort to make tax evasion impossible, this method seeks to judge your precise tax liability. It essentially uses big data to curate every taxpayer’s master profile. This will encompass critical data about you.

About Project Insight

The IT department means to cast a tax net over people, by using information from Project Insight once it is segregated. It also seeks to catch truants who escaped demonetisation with shady tactics.

Here’s your 10 second takeaway for Project Insight-

  1. An integrated information management system, it functions using machine learning.
  2. Its job is to collate relevant web pages and documents that are deemed worthy of investigation.
  3. Your master profile will show your address, signature and I-T return profile.
  4. They have a business intelligence segment that shall list out tax evaders.
  5. Furthermore, a Geographic Information system will gauge citizens on parameters such as income, profit and capital gains.
In case you’re thinking of hastily expunging your profile of suspicious previous posts, it probably won’t work. Big data has a headstart and they mean to penalise tax evaders. After all, hell hath no fury like an IT department scorned!