Government aware of black money sources, says Jaitley

Bengaluru: Reminding tax evaders of the Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS) to come clean and pay up by September 30, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the government was well aware of the sectors that generated black money. "Everybody, including the tax department is aware of the sectors in which unaccounted money is generated. But it would be an unpleasant duty for any state to start the process of big brother watching," Jaitley said at a seminar on the IDS 2016 here. Hinting that non-payment of direct taxes would be detected in the near future, the Finance Minister said all those who earn must pay taxes, which are reasonable in India as compared to the rates in other countries. "Keeping a watch on transactions of citizens is not a happy thing to do for a government, which has to trust its people in complying with tax laws," Jaitley noted. Exhorting people to avail of the scheme and come clean on their unaccounted wealth, the minister said it was a good opportunity for clearing up the past and live with head held high in the future. "I hope the scheme is a good opportunity for tax payers to come out clean, sleep well and live with their heads held high. Those who pay taxes lead a life without fear," Jaitley reiterated. Observing that modern technology had not only brought more openness in the system, but also made tax evasion difficult, Jaitley lamented that in a country of over 126-crore population, only 5.5 crore pay income tax. "The number of tax payers is miniscule when compared with the country's population though taxes are moderate when compared with emerging economies and developed countries," Jaitley pointed out. Advising those who did not pay full taxes in the past to declare their income and become law-abiding taxpayers, the Minister said the people should utilise the scheme within the stipulated time (September 30). "The government had introduced the voluntary disclosure scheme (VDS) in 2015. Some people utilised it, but those who did not asked me if it would be extended. I told them that the government had no intention to do so," Jaitley recalled. The scheme, which Jaitley announced in the budget for this fiscal (2016-17) on March 1, is meant to make India a more compliant state and provides a one-time chance to those who have undisclosed income or assets to pay tax at 30 per cent of the value, with surcharge and penalty by September 30. Earlier, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said the IT department had collected data on those who avoided paying tax after completing various transactions. "We have divided them into four categories based on the quantum of transactions. We will take measures to make them pay the tax,'' Adhia asserted. The seminar, organised by the Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with the income tax department and the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was meant to create greater awareness of the scheme among the public and other stakeholders.