Major Government Initiative to Combat Unaccounted Money and Tax Evasion
A delegation led by Shri Shaktikanta Das, Revenue Secretary and consisting of Shri K.V. Chowdary, Chairman, CBDT and ShriAkhileshRanjan, Joint Secretary (FT&TR) visited Switzerland on 15.10.2014 and held discussions with Swiss Finance and Tax Authorities on issues relating to Exchange of Information in tax matters. The Swiss delegation was led by Mr. Jacques de Watteville, Secretary International Financial Matters, Switzerland. The discussions were substantive and useful. A copy of the Swiss-Indian Joint Statement has already been released to the media yesterday.
From India’s point of view, there are four positive and significant outcomes from the above meeting. They are as follows:
(i) Switzerland has indicated willingness to provide information in respect of cases where investigations have been carried out by our IT Department independently from what Swiss Government considers as stolen data.
This development is very significant because there are a number of cases of account holders included in the HSBC list which were investigated by our Income Tax Department independent of the HSBC list obtained from the French Government. Earlier, the Swiss Government had not agreed to provide any information on names which were included in the HSBC list on the ground that these were stolen data and have been obtained in breach of Swiss law.
(ii) The Swiss Federal Tax Administration has agreed that their competent authority would assist India in obtaining confirmation of genuineness of bank documents on requests by the Indian side and also swiftly provide information on requests relating to non-banking information.
This willingness on the part of the Swiss authorities would help in our tax investigations.
(iii) The Swiss authorities have also agreed to provide the requested information in a time bound manner or else indicate the reasons why the cases cannot be answered within the agreed timeline.
(iv) Switzerland has also assured that they would commence talks with India for concluding an Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) Agreement between India and Switzerland at the earliest, after completion of their domestic procedures. This is the first time that Switzerland has agreed to commence discussions on a bilateral agreement on AEOI.
The above developments are very significant and would assist the Income Tax Department in its investigations. These developments are significant steps in the context of Government’s resolve to combat unaccounted money and tax evasion.