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The Income Tax department (I- T department) had more than 2.35 crore tax returns pending for processing at the beginning of this financial year; the Rajya Sabha was informed today. “There was a pendency of 2,35,74,618 income-tax returns for processing u/s 143(1) of the Income Tax Act 1961, as on April 1, 2009,” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply. On a query that if there is a system of periodical special drives to dispose of the pending returns, Mukherjee replied, “There is no such practice…”

However, the process is a continuous activity and is regularly monitored at various levels through monthly reports, he added. Also, the I-T department has decided to move towards centralised mass processing of returns. For the purpose, the consolidation of regional databases into single national database was completed in December last year, he said.

To another question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Finance S S Palanimanickam said that there have been cases of purchasing insurance policies by payment of large amount of cash and the investigations have been taken up regarding the same. However, there is no provision of re-examining assessees based on income criterion, in appropriate cases the assessments are reopened under the provisions in the Income Tax Act, the Minister said. Providing the data on assessees who have filed tax returns of income between Rs 1 crore and Rs 5 crore, he said that the number of such assessees was 26,275 in the last financial year, while it was 22,341 in the previous fiscal. In 2006-07, the number of such assessees was 15,743

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