The income tax department carried out massive campaigns in the past four months to convince tax payers to come forward and declare undisclosed incomes under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS). Under the scheme, announced in the last Union Budget, 64,275 individual tax payers have declared undisclosed income to the tune of R65,250 crore. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairperson Rani Singh Nair is “satisfied” with the response and said the scheme succeeded even with a high rate of tax and penalty compared to one announced in 1997. Excerpts from an interview:
Are you satisfied with the declarations that have come till now?
The press had said that the IDS declaration would be to the tune of R1,000 crore. Now, we have R65,250 crore worth of declarations. Of course we are satisfied.
How do you compare IDS to the immunity scheme of 1997?
The per capita tax on each tax payer in the 1997 scheme was much lower… this is a more successful scheme. It has shown tremendous improvement as compared to the 1997 scheme, where the rate was as low as 6%. We have always said we have to encourage the honest tax payers. And therefore, for the IDS, we have put a penalty because when you are coming clean after such a gap, you should pay penalty. If we do not do this, no normal tax payer will pay on time.
Did you add new tax payers through IDS?
Currently, we do not have the detailed information on new tax payers. Till one o’clock last night, we have been collecting and tabulating the information. My officers are uploading the information.
Do you think the high number of search and seizure operations in the recent months has led to more declarations?
The search and seizure operations are in the normal course. There have been no search and seizure operations related to IDS. This is information based and spot verification.
What would be the next step towards unearthing black money?
The finance minister has already said that we would continue with the normal procedures under the law. We have our digital verification going on. We would be carrying the normal process, which is required as per the law. We are taking actions as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act.
What would be the consequence if any individual has not declared his complete undisclosed income under IDS?
I think any tax payer who has come forward, has done his due diligence to declare his black money. Otherwise, there is no point in declaring. If he has not declared fully, then immunity offered in the scheme would not apply.
Was it tough to convince tax payers to declare?
This is a voluntary scheme. The income tax department had a massive outreach programme. We wanted the tax payers to come voluntarily and not because of force. We wanted them to come because of their own desire to come and join the proud tax payer family.
Has any tax payer declared foreign assets under IDS?
Under the scheme, foreign assets were not supposed to be declared.