The government has unearthed tax evasion of around Rs 50,000 crore of indirect taxes and undisclosed income of Rs 21,000 crore through a series of measures in the past two years, the finance ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. The value of goods seized on account of smuggling activities has increased to Rs 3,963 crore in the last two years, an increase of 32 per cent over the same period, the statement said.
“Prosecution has been launched in 1,466 cases as against 1,169 cases in the previous two years — an increase of 25 per cent,” the ministry said. To curb black money, the government has made amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2012, as well as Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999, it said.
The Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Act has been enacted with strict penalty provisions and several suggestions of the special investigation team on black money has been implemented to tackle this menace both within and outside the country.
“A special investigation team has been constituted which is chaired by ex-Supreme Court Judge Justice MB Shah. Many recommendations of SIT have been implemented since then. A new Income Disclosure Scheme is formulated for domestic black money,” the ministry said.
Announced in the Budget 2016-17 by finance minister Arun Jaitley, the new Income Disclosure Scheme is formulated for those holding undeclared assets to pay a total tax and penalty of 45 per cent and come clean. Amendments have been made in Prevention of Money-laundering Act to enable attachment and confiscation of equivalent asset in India where the asset located abroad cannot be forfeited in case of proceeds of crime.
Also, “Section 8(8) has been inserted in PMLA providing for restoring confiscated property or part thereof, on the directions of Special Court to claimants with a legitimate interest in the property, who may have suffered a quantifiable loss as a result of the offences of money laundering,” the statement said.
Section 132 of Customs Act which deals with offence relating to false declaration / documents in the transaction of any business relating to Customs has been made predicate offence under PMLA to curb trade based money laundering.
“The offence of willful attempt to evade any tax, penalty or interest referred to in section 51 of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 has been made a scheduled offence under PMLA,” it said. Insurance brokers and registrar or sub-registrar has been identified as persons carrying on designated business or profession under the PMLA.
The FEMA, 1999 has also been amended to provide for seizure and confiscation of value equivalent, situated in India, in case any person is found to have acquired any foreign exchange, foreign security or immovable property, situated outside India, in contravention of the Act.