Prime Minister Narendra Modi has quietly plugged a tax loophole used by the wealthy to buy real estate in someone else’s name as part of his campaign against corruption, a senior tax official said on Monday.
While the focus of his administration was managing the fallout of a shock move last month to scrap old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, the official said that the department expected to step up scrutiny of real estate assets with suspicious titles.
Tax officials expected to use returns for the current year that are filed in July as well as other means such as raids and data from bank transactions to gather information about suspicious real estate assets, the official said.
“This is our priority for next year,” said the official, requesting anonymity as unauthorized to speak to the media.
Any move to clean up India’s messy real estate market could prove to be a mammoth and messy task and would come even as the Modi government is facing mounting criticism of its handling of the cash crunch that followed the scrapping of higher denomination currency notes.
India’s land records are patchy and arcane. Analysts say people such as politicians, businessmen and non-resident Indians often use cash they haven’t paid taxes on to buy property, but put it in the name of their relatives or trusted employees.
But often apartments and land pass down generations in a family without the original owner’s name ever being changed in the title.