Black money hunt yet to yield results

Despite several official efforts to trace and recover black money India has not registered any major success, and investigation agencies are still struggling to estimate how much Indian wealth is parked in tax havens.

While the Panama papers bring out yet another >list of India’s rich and influential who have parked money in tax havens , officials are grapping to find credible ways to verify a new estimate showing that over $505 billion (approximately Rs. 33,83,500 crore) has left India during the 2004-13 period.

Officials who have worked with the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money say that India is too far away from making any major breakthrough on the hunt for black money. “On our own there is very slim chance that we would be able to make any major breakthroughs,” a senior official who has been integral part of SIT consultations said.

He pointed out that all major databases on which action have been initiated have all come from foreign sources. “Be it HSBC Geneva or Liechtenstein, they have all come from abroad,” he said.

Justice M.B. Shah, chairman of the SIT on black money, told The Hindu, “Lot of things have been done, but it cannot be seen easily.” As an example, he pointed out that new restrictions are in place to control misuse of export-import facilities. Strict implementation of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act 2015 could lead better results, the former Supreme Court judge said.

Voluntary disclosure

Over the years, the Indian government has made several attempts to recover black money, by mostly offering opportunity to people to declare their black money. The first such scheme was in 1951, which led to the collection of Rs. 10.89 crore in taxes, and there have been eight more such schemes, until the Modi government came to power in 2014. In 1997, the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme was the most successful of all of them, collecting Rs. 9,745 crore in taxes.

644 declarations only

The Modi government’s first major announcement was the setting up of the SIT on black money. It followed it up with a three months compliance window between July and September 2015 under the black money Act.

It resulted in 644 declarations, totalling declaration of foreign assets worth Rs. 4,164 crore. A total of Rs. 446 crore was collected as tax and penalty. Officials admit that what has been collected is negligible. Despite several agencies and an SIT looking into black money, there is no clear estimate about how much Indian money is parked in foreign tax havens.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 1:05:30 AM |

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