New Delhi, Feb 12:
At a time when unaccounted wealth of Indians stashed away in foreign banks is under focus, the income tax department has shifted its attention from civil consequences to criminal consequences in serious cases of tax evasion.
“In its crusade against black money and with a view to having credible deterrence against generation of black money, the government has shifted its focus to successfully prosecuting the offenders in the shortest possible time,” the finance ministry said in a statement Thursday.
“During 2014-15 (up to December 2014), the income tax department had conducted searches in 414 groups and seized undisclosed assets of Rs.582 crore,” the statement added.
Undisclosed income of Rs.6,769 crore has been admitted by the taxpayers during such searches.
Saying that the focus of investigation in the department had so far been on civil consequences, or revenue augmentation, the ministry said over 600 prosecution complaints have been filed in the current fiscal up to December 2014.
Reacting to an Indian Express report Monday that 1,195 Indians were in the list of clients who held accounts in HSBC bank’s Geneva branch from 2006-2007, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said: “The details that have come out today (Monday) are the ones we already have.”
The central government has completed assessment of 350 foreign accounts while tax-evasion proceedings have been initiated against 60 account holders, Jaitley told reporters here.
In this connection, India has strongly advocated the fast implementation of the automatic exchange of tax information globally, within the time-frame agreed by the G20 countries.
“This would help India trace transactions of money illegally earned or stashed in foreign banks without paying appropriate taxes in the countries where those transactions took place,” Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha told a meeting of the G20 nations’ finance ministers and central bank governors in Istanbul held Feb 9-10, an official release said here Wednesday.
At the G20 Brisbane summit last November, leaders endorsed a new global transparency standard by which more than 90 jurisdictions will begin automatic exchange of tax information, using a common reporting standard by 2017-2018.
India has no official estimates of illegal money stashed away overseas, but the unofficial ones range from $466 billion to $1.4 trillion. IANS