Make tax evasion serious crime: SIT
Tax evasion needs to be made a serious \'criminal offence\' to force foreign countries to reveal names and account details of Indians stashing illicit wealth abroad, the Special Investigation Team on black money has said.
- At present, tax evasion is a civil offence in the country
- Forex violation dealt with by FEMA also a civil offence
- SIT says the move will force other nations to reveal info
- Call to curb multiple identities of individuals in financial transactions
New Delhi: Tax evasion needs to be made a serious 'criminal offence' to force foreign countries to reveal names and account details of Indians stashing illicit wealth abroad, the Special Investigation Team on black money has said.
While adding more teeth to India's pursuit of black money kept abroad, this would also check generation of unaccounted wealth within the country, the SIT Chairman M B Shah said. At present, tax evasion is a civil offence in India and it is dealt under the Income Tax Act, 1961 while forex violations are dealt under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). Both the laws are civil in nature and do not have criminal proceedings. "If this is made a crime, then there is no difficulty and then they (foreign countries) are bound to reveal the names. That is the main purpose," Shah said.
The Supreme Court-constituted SIT, which has former Supreme Court judges M B Shah and Arijit Pasayat as Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively, recently submitted its latest report on black money menace, wherein it has disclosed tracing of Rs 4,479 crore held by Indians in a Swiss bank and unaccounted wealth worth Rs 14,958 crore within India. The SIT suggested making tax evasion of Rs 50 lakh and above a 'predicate offence', saying it would enable easier probe under the stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
It also recommended establishment of a central KYC (Know Your Customer) registry to deal with the problem of multiple identities of an individual in financial transactions. Also, the shipping bills should include the international market price of goods and machinery sought to be exported. "This suggestion is under consideration and is likely to be implemented within short time," the SIT said.