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Tax Authorities Will Monitor Social Media Posts, Target Those With Expensive Holiday Trips And Tax Evaders

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The millennials love to go on holidays, fancy trips in international tours and shopping. The fun part is not the travel and accessories per se, but highlighting where we have traveled and what we have bought! This is done by uploading pictures off social media such as Facebook and Instagram and waiting for the friends and family members to see. However, the high profile holidaying pictures that one uploads will now invite an unwanted peeping tom : Tax Authorities!

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Starting next month, PM Narendra Modi’s government will begin collecting virtual information not just from traditional sources like banks, but also from social media sites, as it looks to match residents’ spending patterns with income declarations. Built over seven years at a cost of about Rs 1,000 crore, ‘Project Insight’ will complement the world’s largest biometric identity database and Indian Government’s endeavor to extract the more out of the tax evaders.

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Amit Maheshwari, managing partner at an accountancy firm near New Delhi said:

“This will put an end to harassment by tax officials as there will be no public interface.”

Countries including Belgium, Canada and Australia are already using big data to unearth tax evasion that may have gone undetected without technology.

During the first phase of the project, all existing data such as credit card spends, property and stock investments, cash purchases and deposits will be migrated to the new system and a central team will send posts or emails to residents to file tax declarations.

The second phase will deploy data analytics which will mine, clean and process the information. Individual spending profiles will be created and inquiries will be more targeted.

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In the third and final phase, which will go live around May 2018, advanced systems will be used to predict future defaults and flag risks.

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