As window closes, govt may ‘own’ undeclared assets abroad

  • Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 02, 2015 01:17 IST
As the compliance window closed, anyone found having undeclared overseas wealth would be required to pay 30% tax, 90% penalty and face criminal prosecution. (HT File Photo)

Those who failed to declare their undisclosed foreign assets for which the one-time compliance window closed on Wednesday face the prospects of forfeiting their entire assets to the government if they are caught.

The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money is considering a change in law to ensure that such undisclosed assets “automatically becomes the property” of the government of India.

Under the three-month-long compliance window, the government received Rs 3,770 crore from 638 declarations. Saying that the “yield is just too less”, Justice (retd) MB Shah, who heads the SIT on black money, told HT: “We had taken stock of the developments in the last meeting of the SIT held a few days back. We are considering a proposal to recommend appropriate changes in the law so that any hitherto undeclared property or assets found to be owned by Indians abroad after Wednesday’s (September 30) compliance deadline automatically becomes the property of the Government of India.”

There are already stringent laws against black money hoarders, including 120 per cent of the tax amount due as penalty besides a jail term of up to 10 years. The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, came into effect on July 1 after being notified on May 26.

“Whatever has come, we accept it and now onwards we would start the action against those people who have not declared any asset and about whom the information would come to us,” Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia told reporters.

Read: Post compliance window, govt to come hard on black money holders

In his Independence Day speech last August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that Rs 6,500 crore of undisclosed income had been declared under the compliance window of the new law. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, explained in Patna that the figure quoted by the PM was “different”. According to a PTI report, Jaitley slammed critics saying the sum of Rs 3,770 crore has been declared through the compliance window under the new anti-black money law and “that Rs 6,500 crore was different”.

“Before calling it a lie you should first clear your understanding, especially when you are associating the word lie with the Prime Minister. It is lack of understanding on your part,” the FM reportedly told the media in Patna when asked about the figures quoted by the PM.

The opposition Congress said that the “hollowness” of the PM’s promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh in every Indian’s account stands exposed, referring to the claim that more than Rs 80 lakh crore of black money was stashed abroad and that he would bring it back within 100 days of the BJP coming to power. “What do we have today after passage of the black money bill and passing of 16 months after Modi became the Prime Minister? Only disclosure of Rs 3,770 crore,” party’s chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said. (END)

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