Penalty on undisclosed income found during the course of search

Under the existing provisions of section 271AAA of the Income-tax Act, no penalty is levied if the assessee admits the undisclosed income in a statement under sub-section (4) of section 132 recorded in the course of search and specifies the manner in which such income has been derived and pays the tax together with interest, if any, in respect of such income. As a result, undisclosed income (for the current year in which search takes place or the previous year which has ended before the search and for which return is not yet due) found during the course of search attracts a tax at the rate of 30% and no penalty is leviable.

In order to strengthen the penal provisions, it is proposed to provide that the provisions of section 271AAA will not be applicable for searches conducted on or after 1st July, 2012. It is also proposed to insert a new provision in the Act (section 271AAB) for levy of penalty in a case where search has been initiated on or after 1st  July, 2012. The new section provides that,-

(i)   If undisclosed income is admitted during the course of search, the taxpayer will be liable for penalty at the rate of 10% of undisclosed income subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions.

(ii)  If undisclosed income is not admitted during the course of search but disclosed in the return of income filed after the search, the taxpayer will be liable for penalty at the rate of 20% of undisclosed income subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions.

(iii)  In a case not covered under (i) and (ii) above, the taxpayer will be liable for penalty at the rate ranging from 30% to 90% of  undisclosed income.

These amendments will take effect from the 1st day of July, 2012 and will, accordingly, apply to any search and seizure action taken after this date.

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