New Delhi: The government has been probing the cases of some "prominent people" hiding their taxable income as agricultural earnings, but there is no proposal for taxing the farmers, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
His statement came after members expressed concern over the issue, citing a report that the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has now been inquiring into the genuineness of farm income claims exceeding Rs.1 crore made by people in their income tax (I-T) returns.
"Tax is not being paid and black money is being generated in the name of agriculture. Government should do something; this is a serious issue," said Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav, raising the issue soon after the house convened.
"In my village, several businessmen are saving tax by doing agriculture," Yadav said.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati said that a high level inquiry should probe the allegations.
"There should be a high-level inquiry and those who have made black money in the name of agriculture should be caught," she said.
This, however, should not be used as an excuse to tax farmers, cautioned Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav.
Jaitley clarified that the government has no intention of taxing agricultural income, but if someone is misrepresenting non-agricultural income as farm earnings, it will be probed.
"Seeing the situation of agriculture sector, there is no proposal for levying income tax on farmers," Jaitley assured the hosue.
"If someone misuses this provision and shows a non-agricultural income as agricultural income, we will probe the individual case."
"I will also tell you, there are many prominent people who have done this and probe is on against them. When the probe is over and the facts are revealed, don't call it political victimisation," said the minister.
That statement irked Digvijay Singh and a few other Congress members.
"Let him come out with the names of the black money holders. He has misled the country and again he is misleading the country," Digvijay Singh said.