New Delhi(PTI): The governments of Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Spain have not provided details of any black money accounts, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.
"No black money account details have been provided by Switzerland, UK or Spain," he said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. "However, in specific cases, on requests made, necessary information is provided by the countries with which India has a tax treaty," he added.
Observing that there were no official estimates of the black money within the country or stashed abroad, the minister said the government was examining the reports of the three institutes -- NIPFP, NCAER and NIFM -- on the issue. Replying to a separate question on the amount of black money taken out of country during 2012, Jaitley said, the figure of Rs 6 lakh crore was based on a report of the Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based organisation.
"Varying estimations of the amount of illicit money moving out of the country have been reported by different persons/ institutions. Such estimations are based upon different sets of facts, data, methods, assumptions etc. leading to varying inferences.
"However, there is no official estimation of the amount of black money stashed abroad/black money taken out of country." The government had in March 2011 had asked the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) to estimate unaccounted income and wealth inside and outside the country.
"Reports received from these institutes are under examination of the government," he added. He further said that government took host of measures including introduction of a comprehensive law in the Lok Sabha to deal with the black money stashed abroad.
The Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, Jaitley said, will provide for stringent penalties equal to three times the amount of tax payable and prosecutions which could lead to rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years.
The other legislative measures to check the black money menace include restrictions on acceptance of advance of Rs 20,000 or more in cash for purchase of immovable property. The government, he added, has also made quoting of PAN compulsory for sale/purchase of goods exceeding Rs 1 lakh. "The sectoral analysis of seizure of valuables and admission of undisclosed income...indicates that the main sectors in this regard are real estate, trading and manufacturing, contractors, gems and jewellery, services etc," he said.
Besides renegotiating the the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs), Jaitley said, the government is also "exploring non-governmental sources to obtain information regarding undisclosed assets and (looking at) effectively utilising the information received from treaty partners to combat tax evasion and avoidance.
"These measures have equipped the government better in curbing the menace of black money". The other initiatives to check black money include setting up for a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in May 2014 to deal with the issues relating to black money stashed abroad, Jaitley said.
He added that due emphasis was being provided on "enforcement measures in high impact cases with a view to prosecute the offenders at the earliest possible for credible deterrence against tax evasion". On the global front, the minister said, the government has joined the efforts to combat cross-border tax evasion and tax fraud and to promote international tax compliance.
The initiatives also include setting up of a uniform standard for automatic exchange of information on a reciprocal basis, he said, adding that it would help in getting information about persons hiding the their money in off shore financial centres and tax havens.