A chance for tax evaders to come clean

The government has decided to open a one-time, four-month compliance window for domestic black money- holders. This gesture is intended to help them come clean by paying tax and penalty of 45 per cent.


“We are moving towards a lower tax regime with a non-litigious approach. Thus, while compliant taxpayers can expect a supportive interface with the department, tax evasion will be countered strongly,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, presenting his budget to Parliament.

He said the capability of the tax department to detect evasion had improved because of the increased access to information and the availability of technology-driven analytical tools to process such information. “I want to give an opportunity to the earlier non-compliant to move to the category of compliant.”

The limited-period compliance window will enable one to declare undisclosed income or income represented in the form of any asset, and clear up past tax transgressions by paying tax at 30 per cent, a surcharge of 7.5 per cent and a penalty of 7.5 per cent. This will add up to 45 per cent of the undisclosed income. The surcharge at 7.5 per cent will be called Krishi Kalyan surcharge, and the money thus raised will be used for agriculture and rural economy.

There will be no scrutiny or enquiry of money declared, either under the Income-Tax Act or the Wealth Tax Act. And the declarants will have immunity from prosecution. They will also get immunity from the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 1988, subject to certain terms. The compliance window, named Income Disclosure Scheme, will open on June 1. It will be open till September 20. The scheme provides one the option to pay the amount due within two months of declaration.

Mr. Jaitley said the government was committed to removing black money from the economy. “Having given one opportunity for evaded income to be declared, we would like to focus all our resources on bringing people with black money to books.”