Survey, Search and Seizure

SURVEY

In general terms, “Survey” means :

  • To look closely at or examine something or someone or
  • A general view, examination or description of something or someone

But here we are discussing survey in context to inspection of books of accounts, cash, stock, other valuables etc. at the business premises by the Income Tax Authorities.

Income Tax Authorities have the powers

  • To inspect books of accounts, cash, stock, other valuables etc. kept at the business premises
  • To place marks of identifications
  • To make inventory of such cash, stock or other valuables
  • To record statements of concerned persons
  • To carry out survey of expenditure incurred by an assessee in connection with any function, ceremony or event, e.g. marriages etc.
  • To survey where any activity for charitable purpose is carried on.

Retaining books of accounts by Income Tax Authorities

  • An Income Tax Authority do not have the power to remove from the place wherein he has entered, any cash, stock or other valuable article or thing
  • But he can impound and retain books of accounts and other documents for not more than 15 days, only after recording reasons in writing
  • For retaining books for more than 15 days, he requires approval of CCIT or Director General or Principal Commissioner or Principal Director

Note : The survey officers are not entitled to enter the residential premises of the assessee.

Note : Enquiring regarding expenditure incurred by an assessee in connection with any function, ceremony or event can be done only after the function is held to ensure that the said function etc. is not disrupted.

Note : An income tax authority in survey may enter any place of business or profession only during business hours and in case of any other place, they may enter only after sunrise and before sunset.

SEARCH and SEIZURE

In general terms “Search” means :

  • Try to find something by looking or otherwise seeking carefully and thoroughly or
  • An act of searching for someone or something

In general terms “Seizure” means :

  • The act of capturing someone or something using force or
  • The action of confiscating or impounding property by warrant of legal right

Powers under Search and Seizure :

  • The powers of search and seizure are resorted to by the Department when there is evidence of undisclosed documents or assets which have not been and would not be disclosed in ordinary course. The reason to believe to conduct search etc. is not to be disclosed
  • Duly Authorized Officers of the Department have authority to search residential premises, business premises, vehicles, bank lockers etc., and to seize the books of accounts, stocks, valuables etc.

WHEN SURVEY CAN BE CONVERTED INTO SEARCH/SEIZURE ?

If a person under survey refuses or evades to afford facility to the income tax authority :

  • to inspect books of accounts or other documents or
  • to check or verify any cash, stock or other valuable article or thing or
  • to furnish any information or
  • to have his statement recorded either to do so,

the income tax authority shall have all the powers as are in case of Search & Seizures for enforcing compliance with the requirement made.

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