The government has set up two income tax overseas units at its missions in Singapore and Mauritius and will create such units in eight more countries to facilitate exchange of information on tax-related issues, Parliament was informed today.
“To facilitate exchange of information, two income tax overseas units within our missions have been created in Singapore and Mauritius and officers have been posted there,” finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
Besides, it has also been decided to create eight more such units at the US, Britain, the Netherlands, Japan, Cyprus, Germany, France and the UAE missions, he added.
He said there is currently no proposal for legislative changes to arrest stashing away money out of the country. “At present, there is no proposal for any legislative changes in the matter,” Mukherjee said in the reply to a query whether the government is contemplating to modify and strengthen the existing laws, or to bring in a comprehensive legislation for checking syphoning off black money from the country.
“There is no verifiable information available about the money allegedly parked in the foreign banks,” the minister said, adding, however, the Central Board of Direct Taxes has asked its investigation directorates to collect information about Indian nationals suspected to have bank accounts in tax havens, and agents of foreign banks who are soliciting people for opening of foreign bank accounts.
“They have also been asked to collect information as regards foreign visits of Indian nationals to tax havens,” the minister said. Efforts are being made to collect evidence during search/survey operations pertaining to opening of foreign bank accounts or other assets abroad, Mukherjee said. Besides, whenever any specific case of suspected unauthorised maintenance of accounts abroad by Indians comes to the notice of department of enforcement, appropriate action is taken.
“No roving enquiries can be made by the directorate, though,” Mukherjee added.
Besides,the ministry has requested the existing partner countries for renegotiation of the article concerning exchange of information in the tax treaties for specifically, including provisions for obtaining bank-related information. Responses from some of these countries,along with their counter proposals, were also received recently, he said.
Negotiations have already been completed in one case, the minister said, adding the treaty partner-countries, with whom pacts do not have provisions relating to assistance in tax collection, have been approached to include such a provision.
To another query, Mukherjee said there is no proposal to set up any new agency to conduct study on the quantum of black money in the country.