Tax evasion knows two easy routes. First, generate false accounts attributed to companies that exist only on paper and show them as a loss-making unit. Second, take the flight out and stash away the earnings in foreign accounts.
On Tuesday, Minister of State for Finance, Pankaj Chaudhary, submitted a written reply in Rajya Sabha stating that 648 disclosures involving undisclosed foreign assets worth Rs 4,164 crore were made in the one-time three months’ compliance window closed on September 30, 2015 under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.
The reply was in response to a query by MPs Sukhram Singh Yadav and Vishambhar Prasad Nishad. They sought details on black money brought back to India from foreign countries from 2014 till November 2021.
“There is no official estimation of how much worth of black money is lying in foreign accounts over the last five years. Penalty collected for tax evasion has been about Rs 2,476 crore,” read his statement. He added that investigations conducted in the cases revealed by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have led to detection of more than Rs 11,010 crore of credits in the undisclosed foreign accounts.
In fact, in the 2014 general elections, a key poll promise of the current BJP government was bringing back black money stashed abroad.
The minister said that undisclosed income of more than Rs 8,466 crore has been brought to tax and penalty of more than Rs 1,294 crore has been levied on account of deposits made in unreported foreign bank accounts in “HSBC cases” so far.
With relation to a question on action taken against persons and companies whose names were published in Panama Papers, the minister informed that undisclosed credits amounting to Rs 20,353 crore with respect to 930 India linked entities have been trailed. “Taxes collected so far amount to Rs 153.88 crore in the Panama and Paradise Paper Leaks. Further, criminal prosecution complaints have been filed against 52 of these cases while a total of 130 case proceedings have been initiated under the Act.”
To its name, the government credits proactive steps on the heels of any credible information with regard to black money stashed abroad, whether in the HSBC cases, ICIJ cases, Paradise Papers or Panama Papers.
These include collaborative investigation with foreign counterparts and extraditing offenders who seek refuge on foreign soil.