The Electronic Clearing System (ECS) of the Income Tax (I-T) Department has been hacked into, jeopardising the functioning of department across Mumbai. On Wednesday, three days after the incident, the I-T department handed over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Sources revealed that the ECS of the I-T department, which facilitates tax refunds of Mumbaikars has been hacked into. It is believed, the hacker also managed to divert crores of rupees from the system. Following this incident, the entire system that processes income tax payment has been shut down since Monday. To prevent further damage, the department has now changed the passwords of all the senior officers with access to the ECS.

Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, R K Singh confirmed the report, stating, “The matter has been transferred to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).”

According to I-T sources, the incident came to light last week when an additional commissioner level officer discovered unauthorised remittance made from his section. The officer informed his seniors about it and investigations revealed the ECS had been hacked into.

“Prima facie it seems that more than Rs 15 crore has been siphoned off from the ECS. Investigations are on to ascertain the total amount,” an officer from the I-T Department said requesting anonymity.

ECS system of the I-T was launched recently to clear the refunds of taxpayers in bulk and cut down the tedious paperwork. Sources said that the department has cleared the refunds of one lakh more assessees in a short span of a month through ECS.

“The remittance was made by computers. Now, to check the source and officer who has cleared the refunds, one has to manually go through the entire process which will take a really long time,” said an assessing officer from the I-T department.

In a parallel inquiry, the investigation wing of the I-T is also on a trail of bogus PAN cardholders. Sources said a businessman from suburban Mumbai had filed an income tax return with the help of bogus PAN card. The I-T official got suspicious and found that the card was made in the name of two boys. I-T officials interrogated the boys who revealed that they never applied for any PAN card.

Further inquiries revealed that their father’s employers had managed the fake PAN cards in the name of boys. The I-T officials then approached the local police, but police refused to register the offence. Inquiries are still on in the matter.

I-T payment system has been shut down since Monday following the incident

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January 2021