Muted response to black money disclosure window

By | September 13, 2016

The government’s effort to get people to voluntarily disclose their black money, under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS), has had a tepid response, with only about Rs. 4,000 crore reported till mid- August. The four- month window for disclosing black money deposits will close at the end of this month. The informal target for the scheme was tax collection of Rs. 40,000- 50,000 crore. To collect that amount, the disclosure would have have to be about Rs. 1 lakh crore. Those availing of this scheme would have to pay 45 per cent of their disclosed amount as tax, penalty and cess. Sources said the government expected to see an upsurge in the rate of disclosures in the last two weeks. “The scheme has been slow to pick up, with only about Rs. 4,000 crore black money disclosure till mid- August. But, we expect higher volumes as the deadline approaches,” said a government official. He added: “ This was the trend we had seen in the foreign black money scheme last year.” Another official said, “ While there is no official target, the government expects the tax department to collect at least Rs. 40,00050,000 crore in taxes under the ongoing compliance window. This looks difficult.” The total targeted declaration of Rs. 1 lakh crore is about three times the Rs. 33,000 crore declared under the tax amnesty scheme, Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS), 1997. In contrast, only 644 declarations, worth Rs. 4,164 crore, were made under the black money window for foreign assets last year, resulting in tax collection of Rs. 2,428 crore. The tax rate and penalty was 60 per cent. A stiff warning from Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the black money holders earlier this month was also expected to trigger more people to avail of the one- time scheme. In an interview to a private TV channel, Modi had said, “ No one should blame me if I take tough decisions after the 30th (of September).” However, this may not give the correct picture as taxes could be paid in three instalments, the first one by November 30. According to tax consultants, the high tax rate of 45 per cent and the concerns related to confidentiality of declarations are the key deterrents for those who wish to come clean. The finance ministry has tried to dispel fears of confidentiality through its “ frequently asked questions”. Explaining this, an official said confidentiality will be strictly maintained, unless the money declared is from crime. In case, if someone had accumulated money from crime, they should not come forward under this scheme. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) issued the sixth set of “ frequently asked questions” last week to dispel doubts about the scheme. It pointed out that a facility to declare such assets by the internet- based efiling portal of the department has been activated ensuring secrecy of declarations. IDS provides an opportunity to domestic taxpayers to declare undisclosed income or assets by September 30 and avail immunity from prosecution under the Income- Tax Act, Wealth Tax Act and Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act. The tax amount includes a tax rate of 30 per cent besides Krishi Kalyan Cess and a penalty of 7.5 per cent each. On industry demand, the government has also extended the time of payment of the tax to attract more declarations. Now, 25 per cent tax payment needs to be made by November 30 this year, another 25 per cent by March 31, 2017, and the remaining 50 per cent by September 30, 2017. Earlier, the entire tax payment had to be made by November 30. CBDT has spent Rs. 100 crore on advertising the scheme across the country. Having information of 90 lakh high- value transactions without PAN, the income- tax department has issued 700,000 letters to such individuals, asking them to come clean under the compliance window. The tax department has scrutinised the Annual Information Returns (AIR) for high- value transactions, which have divulged cash deposits of over Rs. 10 lakh in a savings bank accounts, sale and purchase of immovable property valued at Rs. 30 lakh or more. Many of these transactions do not have a PAN linked to it. The Income Tax department has said those holding potential black money should hurry up and declare their stash funds under the onetime domestic compliance window as only 20 days are left for the IDS to close. ” The Income Declaration Scheme closes on 30.09.2016. Only 20 days left. Hurry, declare now!,” the department said on its official Twitter handle. –[12-09-2016]

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