Curbing the black money menace has remained the biggest challenge for almost all the governments we have witnessed since independence in India. The Income Tax act alone has proven to be a failure in tackling this widespread national issue, since various countries in the world provide havens to deposit the black money coming from India and so the lawmakers had to come up with a new law for tackling black money issue and it is christened as ‘The Foreign Undisclosed Foreign Income & Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill’ with strict punishments and penalties for concealing the information pertaining to unaccounted money parked in banks abroad. Under the provisions of this bill, the offenders are liable for stringent punishments—like 10 years rigorous imprisonment for non-disclosure of overseas income, penalty of as high as 300 per cent of the taxes on the income and assets concealed. Moreover, they are not even permitted to approach the settlement commission and the offence has been made non-compoundable.
The new bill which is currently in the parliament awaiting approval for being converted into law has in the meanwhile kick-started a debate within the society on whether the new bill will improve income tax authority’s ability to effectively tackle the issue of black money, or it will be just another law and may fail to address the real problem. Or, it may also lead to harassment of such innocent tax payers who have already disclosed their foreign assets. In India, lack of laws has never been a problem; their proper implementation has been an issue. And hence it is also required to be ensured that the upcoming law shall have adequate safeguards and enough provisions of appeal, otherwise it will become a draconian law benefiting only the corrupt by the means of out of the authority illegal settlements. No doubt this bill is a welcome step, but in its current form it may be prone to be misused. Moreover, only this law may not be enough to dig-out all the unaccounted money, because a big part of black money can be found in the country itself for which we actually require to close the loopholes in our income tax laws and stress over their proper implementation. Any new law will hardly be of any use unless it is actually enforced and the whole system is made accountable for the honest and speedy implication of this upcoming law.
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