Govt opens 90-day window to declare black money abroad

NEW DELHI (TIP): Those with undisclosed overseas wealth have another 90 days to come clean with the government opening the compliance window on July 1.

Under the one-time officer, the compliance scheme will be open till September 30, with time till December-end to pay the 30% tax, and another 30% penalty. The scheme was announced along with the stringent black money law – which provides for jail of up to 10 years and penalty of up to 90%, along with 30% tax — in the budget. In its March 1 budget edition.

“It is meant to provide a last opportunity to persons with undisclosed income and assets abroad before the stringent provisions (of the new law) apply. It is not meant to be a revenue mobilizing measure,” revenue secretary Shaktikanta Das said.

For the Narendra Modi administration, mopping up undisclosed funds, especially those kept abroad, is a key focus area as the prime minister had made it a major poll issue last year and promised to get funds back into the country. A day after it assumed office in May 2014, the government announced a Special Investigative team on black money and has since followed it up with the stringent black money law.

While the details of the scheme will be made public on Thursday, sources said that those looking to tap the window will have to fill up the prescribed form and submit it to a principal commissioner of income tax in Delhi, who for the moment will remain the only designated authority for disclosures. “For the scheme to be monitored directly by the board we are designating only a limited number of officers to ensure its integrity,” Das said. An official added that if the volume increases, a principal commissioner in Mumbai will also be designated to deal with the disclosures.

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The rules will clearly stipulate that no action will be taken against those coming clean, unless the money is related to drugs, corruption or terrorism. The tax department will separately release FAQs over the next few days to address the queries that it has received over the past few months. This is for the first time since the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) in 1998 that the revenue department has offered an opportunity to people to come clean, although the BJP government insists that the compliance scheme is not the same as the amnesty launched 17 years ago.

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