New Delhi: The Income Tax department has become one of the largest real estate purchasers after it spread its establishment for enhancing taxpayer services in the country.

The department, which has recently begun a special drive to check prevalence of black money in the country's real estate sector, has acquired high-worth properties worth about
Rs 2,500 crore in more than 20 cities in the last year alone.

The largest acquisition by the department has been at the cost of more than Rs 2,000 crore for the purchase of office space in the Civic Centre near the national capital's marketing hub, Connaught Place. The Civic Centre is the tallest building in Delhi.

The department has similarly purchased 56 staff quarters worth more than Rs 89 crore at the pricey Bandra-Kurla complex in Mumbai.

"All the acquisitions have been done in order to expand taxpayer facilities and to provide better living and working facilities for the department staff. No doubt the department's
purchasing power has been the largest in the last fiscal," an Income Tax Commissioner involved in the process, said.

The department, with these acquisitions in the real estate sector has probably become the largest government department to acquire and create real estate in the country, the Commissioner said.

The shopping bucket of the department, according to an official report, has other high-profile purchases and acquisitions like creation of a training centre and hostel facilities for new recruits of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) at their alma mater -- National Academy of Direct Taxes (NADT) in Nagpur at the cost of Rs 100 crore.

In Chandigarh, the I-T department has purchased 5,000 acres of land for office space at the cost of more than Rs 33 crore, a centralised air conditioned I-T office at Udaipur at
the cost of more than Rs 16 crore, acquisition of land for construction of office building for the department in Mumbai at about Rs 23 crore and land measuring more than 9,500 sq m
at Jamnagar in Gujarat for office building at Rs 8 crore.

Another set includes office building at Siliguri for Rs 5.5 crore and a separate creation of 49 residential quarters and guest house at Siliguri in excess of Rs 10 crore.

One more big acquisition by the department has been made at Muzzafarpur in Bihar for building staff quarters at the cost of more than Rs 21 crore. The department has purchased or acquired many such real estate infrastructure in cities like Kanpur and Allahabad,
Panchkula (Haryana), Bangalore, Allapuzha (Kerala), Ahmedabad and Gaya recently and is set to acquire more such land and creation of new infrastructure in the current fiscal.

It is also in the process of creating new Aaykar Sampark Kendras (ASKs) -- a single window office for taxpayers while dealing with I-T department -- in various cities at the cost of crores of rupees.

The I-T department office at the new Civic Centre in Delhi will have an area of about 52,000 square metres in the E-Block, along with separate flanks for service areas and a
dedicated car parking for 1,110 vehicles.

The department has also been buoyed by the success of direct taxes (income tax) collection which was about Rs 4.50 lakh crore in the financial year 2010-11. Despite the department paying Rs 72,000 crore in refunds, the robust direct tax collection is the highest in any financial year.