Black money: Govt unveils set of 27 FAQs, vows total confidentiality to declarants

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Updated: September 04, 2015 1:00 PM

With fears apparently continuing to nag potential declarants, the government once again today promised total confidentiality of information furnished to unearth black money.

Black moneyWith fears apparently continuing to nag potential declarants, the government once again today promised total confidentiality of information furnished to unearth black money. (Reuters)

With fears apparently continuing to nag potential declarants, the government once again today promised total confidentiality of information furnished under the one-time compliance window for unearthing black money stashed abroad.

The Finance Ministry issued 32 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the compliance window on July 6, and came out with the 27 second FAQs set today.

In a second set of clarifications in question-answer format, the government also relaxed conditions for those who cannot get bank statements of their foreign accounts by saying it would accept their “best estimate” declarations with a rider that penalty would follow if disclosures were not complete.

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In the 27 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on voluntary disclosures to be made in the 90-day compliance window ending September 30, the Finance Ministry provided a detailed methodology for computation of value of foreign properties, shares and other financial and non-financial assets.

It also detailed treatment of income of non-residents after moving back to the country and as well as applicability of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) provisions.

Responding to questions on confidentiality of information disclosed under the compliance window, it said, the new law on black money incorporates the provisions of section 138 of the Income tax Act relating to disclosure of information in respect of assesses.

“The information in respect of declaration made is confidential as in the case of the return of income filed by the assessees,” it said.

As regards periods for which bank statements of foreign accounts were unavailable, the FAQ said, “the person may compute the value (of account) of such period on best estimate basis.”

The account holder, however, will have to furnish a certificate of the bank or any other evidence to the effect that the details are not available.

At the same time, the government cautioned that if it was found later that the value of bank account was different from what had been declared, the immunity from higher penalties and jail term will only be to the extent of the declaration made.

For non-residents who receive pension for the period of employment in foreign country, the FAQs said the accretions to such accounts after he became residents will have to be disclosed as it will be chargeable to tax in India.

The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax provides for tax and penalty of 120 per cent and jail term of up to 10 years for holding undisclosed foreign assets. It provided a 90-day compliance window to escape the harsh punishment by declaring the assets and paying 60 per cent tax and penalty.

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