Amid reports that the government is planning to make tax evasion a criminal offence, a finance ministry official today said it could be done only if the source of income is illegal. But “if it is a tax evasion alone, it is a civil offence,” the official said
He, however, asserted that “if there is an element of illegality about the source of income or if funds are used for illegal purpose…we can think of classifying these as criminal tax offences”.
The government has set up a committee, headed by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Prakash Chandra, to examine ways to strengthen laws to curb generation of unaccounted money in India, its illegal transfer abroad and its recovery.
Harsher punishments, the official said, could substantially check tax evasion.
“We can tighten laws to permit harsher punishment to those who are involved in such criminal tax offences,” the official added.
In its first meeting held yesterday, it was decided that public comments should be sought to strengthen the laws to unearth the unaccounted wealth.
The Income Tax Department had recently set up the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to deal with tax crimes related to illegal activities.