New DELHI(WEB TEAM): Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill to deal with black money stashed abroad through high monetary penalty and criminal prosecution with the government allaying fears that innocent people could be harassed under the proposed "deterrent" law.
Piloting the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said there would be short compliance window for persons having undisclosed income abroad to come clean by paying 30% tax and 30% penalty.
Once the compliance window closes, anyone found having undeclared overseas wealth would be required to pay 30% tax, 90% penalty and face criminal prosecution, he said while winding up the debate on the bill which was later approved by the House.
For those wanting to come clean, Jaitley said there would be a compliance window in two parts -- to declare assets and to pay 30% tax and 30% penalty.
Citing an example, he said, there could be a two-month window to declare overseas assets and within six months one would have to pay tax and penalty.
Jaitley said the law will help bring black money in the declared economy, improve tax collections and would eventually facilitate lowering of tax rates.
Noting that this bill was specifically to target black money stashed abroad, he said a separate benami bill will soon be brought before Cabinet to tackle domestic black money.
"This law will act as a deterrent...It will act as a deterrent and help us in getting the assets back by people declaring them," he said, adding the law also had a provision for attachment of equivalent properties in India.
Rejecting the opposition charge that the stringent provisions could result in harassment of innocent people and students, he said, "we don't want to proceed against trivial violations. But then the big fish must not get away in the garb.
"Let us not fire from the shoulders of these innocent students in order to make sure that no harsh action is taken on the big fish itself."