Govt checking if black money returned to India, says Adhia

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In the wake of deposits held by Indians in Swiss banks dropping by 33 per cent, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Friday said the government was checking if any of the black money has been routed back to India.

Noting the fall in money by Indians in Swiss banks as a positive, Adhia said the data indicated the government’s steps to recover black money were in the right direction.
At the same time, he observed, the government and the income tax (I-T) department are continuously working to detect black money and are making efforts to track down any such funds that have returned to India.

“If money has returned or routed back into India, we (government and agencies) are taking steps to track it,” Adhia told reporters here.

Money held by Indians in Swiss banks has fallen by nearly third to a record low of 1.2 billion francs (about Rs 8,392 crore) amid a continuing global clampdown on the famed secrecy wall of Switzerland’s banking system.

The government might consider the industry demand of payment of taxes in instalment under the black money compliance scheme, he said. However, the window to disclose the menace of domestic black money would not be extended beyond the four-month period, ending September 30.

“The demand has come from industry bodies and other groups of people, which the government is considering but that need not be announced immediately.”

The revenue secretary also warned black money holders of prosecution if they tried to pass off any undisclosed income of past as current year’s income. He also said asssessees would need to disclose the dates of past undisclosed transactions.

Adhia emphasised that the focus of the scheme was on declaration of tax and not to ascertain the source of income of individuals.

“We have already clarified through the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Central Board of Direct Taxes website that there would be no sharing of information with any other enforcement agencies (including Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate or Service Tax etc). The individual will be given immunity from prosecution under Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, Income Tax, and Wealth Tax acts,” he added.

He clarified that the “nature of income” column in the declaration form was not for the purpose of knowing the source of income. The column has been provided to ascertain if the asset was is movable or immovable.

Adhia also shared data of search and seizure which has gained a significant amount of undisclosed income in last two years. The I-T department found Rs 21,000 crore and Rs 22,000 crore of undisclosed income through search and seizure, respectively. “The Income Tax Department has found a total of Rs 43,000 crore worth undisclosed income from investigations during the past two fiscal years.”

The Income Declaration Scheme 2016, which came into effect from June 1, 2016, is an opportunity for those taxpayers who haven’t disclosed income or paid taxes thereon in the past. Domestic taxpayers can declare undisclosed income or such income represented in the form of any asset by paying tax at 30 per cent, surcharge at 7.5 per cent and penalty at 7.5 per cent, which works out to a total of 45 per cent of the undisclosed income.