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Black Money Bill: Any non-disclosed income or asset outside India will attract 90% penalty

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500 India rupee notes

By Harshmeet Singh

Moving forward on its long standing commitment of bringing back the illicit Indian money concealed abroad, the Modi Government, on Friday, finally tabled a bill in the Lok Sabha which would cover such offences. Called the ‘The Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015’, it would come into effect (if passed by the Parliament) beginning from 1st April, 2016.

The official statement before the introduction of the Bill said “In order to fulfil the commitment made by the Government to the people of India through the Parliament, the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015 has been introduced in the Parliament on 20.03.2015.  The Bill provides for separate taxation of any undisclosed income in relation to foreign income and assets. Such income will henceforth not be taxed under the Income-tax Act but under the stringent provisions of the proposed new legislation,”

Major provisions of the Bill

The Bill includes the following penalties to be levied upon Black money holders –

Any non-disclosed income or asset outside India would attract a penalty tax, which would be thrice the normal tax slab of 30%, making it 90%. Significantly, this penalty would be over and above the normal tax payable at 30%.

  • If the individual doesn’t furnish returns on his / her foreign income or asset (even if there is no taxable income), it would result in a penalty of Rs 10 lakh. However, undisclosed foreign accounts worth less than Rs 5 lakh won’t attract any penalty.
  • Apart from the hefty fines, the wilful offenders of tax evasion would also be slapped with a rigorous imprisonment for a period of 3 to 10 years.
  • If the person fails to furnish returns on the foreign assets and income held by him / her (even if there is no taxable income), it would attract a rigorous imprisonment for a period ranging from 6 months to 7 years.
  • Aiding or enticing in filing a false return or incorrect declaration would also result into a rigorous imprisonment for a period ranging from 6 months to 7 years. This clause is also applicable to the financial intermediaries and Banks who assist in such secrecy. The beneficial owners of the asset would also come under the purview of this provision.

Safeguards in the Bill

Following the principles of natural justice, as mentioned in our constitution, the proposed bill contains multiple provisions for ensuring that the accused gets enough chances to prove his / her innocence. The bill calls for obligatory issue of notices to the accused, a fair chance of being heard, providing orders in writing, acceptance of the evidence brought forth by him to prove his stand and much more. Furthermore, the accused would also have the right to appeal to the ‘Income tax appellate tribunal’, the concerned High Court and the Supreme Court, if needed.

To encourage voluntary disclosure, the bill also provides for a one time reprieve to all those who would be willing to voluntarily disclose their illicit money or assets stashed abroad. This provision is applicable only for a limited period wherein the person must disclose his / her foreign asset and file a declaration to the concerned tax authority by paying the legitimate tax and the penalty. Notably, this isn’t a pardoning clause since the person would still be slapped with the penalty in proportion to the undisclosed assets. However, the persons making voluntary disclosures won’t be prosecuted under the harsh provisions introduced in the Bill.

The bill also seeks to amend the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and bring ‘concealment of income and evasion of tax in relation to a foreign asset’ under its purview as a ‘predicate offence’. This move would empower the enforcement agencies to impound the foreign assets in question and begin its proceedings. The date of opening of the foreign account has also been made a mandatory disclosure under the proposed bill.

 

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Women Representation in Lok Sabha as Low as 12 Percent

None of the political parties could implement the promise and the number of women MPs was not even able to reach one-fourth members in the House.

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Since the beginning in 1952, there had been no female Speaker in the House until the 15th Lok Sabha. Pixabay

Slogans of various political parties about empowering Indian women in politics seem to have remained just lip service, if one goes by the statistics.

The case in point is that in the outgoing 16th Lok Sabha, there were only 66 women members out of the total House strength of 543, which makes it just 12 per cent.

This is the situation 67 years after the first general elections.

Had the long-pending legislative proposal to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha been passed, it could have ensured at least 179 female members in the Lower House of Parliament.

In the first Lok Sabha formed in 1952, there were 24 women. The number did not change in the second Lok Sabha formed in 1957.

The number increased when the third Lok Sabha (1962-67) was formed with 37 women, according to data available on the Lok Sabha website.

There was a decrease in the numbers in the fourth, fifth and sixth Lok Sabha where 33, 28 and 21 women were elected respectively.

The number again increased to 32 women in the seventh Lok Sabha (1980-84) and in the eighth (1984-89) with 45 women members being elected.

When the Lok Saha was elected in 1989 for the ninth time, the number of women dropped to 28.

Since then, there has been a minor but constant increase in the number of females.

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The number again increased to 32 women in the seventh Lok Sabha (1980-84) and in the eighth (1984-89) with 45 women members being elected. 
Pixabay

The 10th Lok Sabha (1991-96) had 42 female members and the 11th was one less.

The 12th had 44 female MPs, while the 13th and 14th saw equal numbers at 52 females of the total 543 members.

The 15th Lok Sabha (2009-14) saw a major increase: it touched 64 females — about 12 per cent of the total House strength.

The 16th – the outgoing – Lok Sabha had 66 female MPs, two more than the previous term.

Since the beginning in 1952, there had been no female Speaker in the House until the 15th Lok Sabha.

Congress’ Meira Kumar was elected unopposed as the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha in 2009 and served till 2014. Then, Sumitra Mahajan of BJP became the second female to preside over the 16th Lok Sabha.

Congress on Friday promised to create one crore jobs across the southern state
The Congress made the pledge in its manifestos in 2019, 2014 and 2009. – wikimedia commons

The political parties have been promising 33 per cent reservation to females in legislatures a number of times.

Also Read: U.N. Agencies Running Out of Money for Essential Relief Activities, Yemen’s Children Continue To Suffer

The Congress made the pledge in its manifestos in 2019, 2014 and 2009. The BJP too made the promise in 2014 and now. The Communist Party of India-Marxist also promised the reservation in its manifestos in 1999, 2009 and 2019.

But none of the political parties could implement the promise and the number of women MPs was not even able to reach one-fourth members in the House. (IANS)