Indians holding black money abroad will be given a chance to disclose overseas bank accounts or wealth and avoid a jail term, minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha has said.
A day after finance minister Arun Jaitley proposed stringent measures against slush funds in the budget for 2015-16, Sinha said Sunday the failure to unveil assets abroad would invite a rigorous jail term of up to seven years, while concealing income and evading tax would result in 10-year imprisonment.
These provisions will be part of a law that the government plans to bring during the current session of Parliament.
Dismissing the suggestion that government was proposing an amnesty scheme, Sinha in an interview to PTI said, “There is no amnesty scheme. We have said very clearly, we expect everybody, who has any undisclosed wealth, accounts, so on ...outside the country should disclose that. We have created a window to do that…”
Talking about the proposed law, Sinha said an account holder would have to specify the date of opening of foreign account while filing returns.
The BJP had in its poll manifesto promised a crack down on black money stashed abroad and the Modi government ordered setting up of a special investigation team in line with a Supreme Court order.
Besides the new law, the efforts to curb illicit wealth would include changes in the benami transaction act and restrictions on accepting cash beyond `20,000 as advance for real estate transactions.
Activists and experts have often pointed out that the black economy was thriving in the country as well and identified real estate as one of the main sources of it.
Unveiling his budget proposals, Jaitley had said the government would enact a comprehensive law to specifically deal with black money stashed abroad.
Speaking at an industry event, Sinha said tax concessions were not the way forward. “You can’t keep asking for tax concessions when the rate of recovery is among the lowest in India, behind Uganda, Kenya and Nepal,” Sinha said at a gathering celebrating 25 years of Nasscom.
Jaitley had Saturday announced lowering of the basic rate of corporate tax to 25% from 30% over four years.