Many have, mistakenly, confused the prime minister (PM)'s recent remark that Rs 6,500 crore had been disclosed by holders of hitherto unaccounted money with disclosures under the compliance window in the recent law on the subject.
However, this money has nothing to do with the latter's three-month window. These came to light after the new government launched various investigations and then information was revealed by the respective countries under Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs), officials said.
Only Rs 70-80 crore had been disclosed under the compliance window provided under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015. This window would be over at the end of next month.
"As much as Rs 6,500 crore has been disclosed after we launched various investigations against those stashing away money abroad. The information was revealed under DTAA by foreign countries and tax havens," a key official told Business Standard.
Switzerland, Germany, France and tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands and others had given this information, they said. India has a DTAA with 85 countries. It is negotiating another such agreement with Mauritius to plug the routing of money by third-country investors through the island country into India.
Most of this money was disclosed during the new regime and only a miniscule amount was revealed during the earlier United Progressive Alliance government, the officals said. They did not give a break-up of the amount.
The PM also said Rs 4,500 crore was recovered in the past 10 months under the Prevention of Money Lanudering Act (PMLA). Officials said this was a sequel to attachment of properties by the enforcement directorate in various cases.
When asked, revenue secretary Shaktikanta Das refused to comment on the issue.
Earlier, finance minister Arun Jaitley had said 60 prosecutions had been launched on the 'HSBC list'. This refers to the French authorities having, in 2011, given 628 names to the government of people who allegedly had accounts in a branch of that bank. The number had doubled to 1,195 after the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed the total list.
The confusion referred to the outset of this report arose because of the wordings of the PM's speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day. He'd said: "We have given some grace period for declaring undisclosed income and today I can say that people have come forward and declared their undisclosed income amounting to Rs 6,500 crore. This amount will accrue to our exchequer."
From the sequencing of the sentence, it appeared the money was disclosed under the three-month window provided in the black money law.
To encourage more people to disclose money stashed abroad, the finance ministry is to issue more clarifications through 'Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
It has already issued one set of FAQs. In the second set, it is likely to clarify on the period for which foreign bank account details have to be provided, after concerns were expressed in some quarters over the availability of records beyond a few years.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes had asked persons having undisclosed foreign bank accounts to provide the sum total of credits since the opening of the account. The source said some stakeholders had raised an issue that if someone has had an account for a long period, say 20-30 years, how would that person provide details for that entire period?
Under the new law, after the window ends, anyone found to be having illicit money or assets abroad would have to pay 120 per cent tax and a penalty to the government.