Isn’t the total amount disclosed under the black money compliance window too little?
This is not a matter of assumption. It is a matter of fact. There is undisclosed black money in various forms. There is a set of cases known as the HSBC cases where assessment has been made in most of them on (total) income of Rs 6,500 crore and demands have been taken out. Then you have Lichtenstein cases where black money is disclosed, we have taken action, assessments are completed and prosecution is going on.
Even in the HSBC cases prosecution cases have been filed. Now, under the new black money law this is the third set of cases where we provided the compliance window where 638 people have come and said, “I have foreign assets”.
They will pay 60 per cent tax and penalty by December 31. They will be assessed accordingly and can sleep, by and large, in peace, now. Over and above, if somebody is found having black money abroad and we have evidence against him then he will face the new law. He will have to pay tax of 30 per cent plus 90 per cent penalty. Total 120 per cent tax and penalty … and he will be liable for prosecution which might entail 10 years of imprisonment. Now more stringent provisions will apply. Then, there is another category of people who have domestic black money. We are taking series of measures to curtail use of black money.
What are the measures?
We are rationalising the tax structure. There is a provision to use PAN (Permanent Account Number) card compulsorily in certain transaction.
Also, the new law disallows cash in property transaction. We want to issue RuPay card to the poor under the Jan-Dhan Yojana.
Then we have created payment gateways and we want the usage of plastic currencies or cheques rather than cash.
The previous black money amnesty scheme had brought in around Rs 10,000 crore.
You are comparing apples and oranges. Amnesty was with regard to domestic black money in 1996. The quantum of domestic black money can be entirely different than what is stashed abroad. I will go strictly as per law. If we find out then we will take action.
Was there a need for more clarity on the compliance window? Some people had thought that it would entail prosecution…
There is no confusion whatsoever in people’s mind. The law very clearly says if you comply within the disclosure window there will be no prosecution. Returns given to the authority will be, by and large, accepted. There is no prosecution if you use compliance window but now if you are found with money abroad then you are liable for prosecution besides penalty. We are moving towards rationalisation of taxes, giving incentives to pay taxes so that you don’t keep black money.