Amidst reports of rising deposits of Indian money in Swiss banks, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said all deposits in the Swiss accounts are not black money.
Jaitley, in his blog, said, “Switzerland has taken significant efforts to get out of the image of being a tax haven and a non-compliant State. It is on the verge of making disclosures in real time and, therefore, is no longer an ideal destination for tax evaders.”
He further said though Switzerland was always reluctant about financial disclosures, however, after international pressure, it agreed to make disclosures for requesting states, including India.
The minister also gave a stern warning to illegal depositors, stating that the names of those using the Swiss banking for illegal wealth will be made public, and the account holders will be penalised under the black money law in India.
Jaitley said, “The flow of information is starting in January 2019. Any illegal depositor knows that it is a matter of months before his name becomes public and he will be subjected to the harsh penal provisions of the Black money law in India.”
Further clarifying the different categories of deposits in the Swiss Banking system which does not qualify as illegal wealth, Jaitley said, “Indian money outside the country is of various categories. Past investigation by CBDT has shown that this includes many held by persons of Indian origin who now hold foreign passport, monies belonging to Non-Resident Indians, as also monies belonging to resident Indians who have made legitimate investments abroad, including transfer of money under the liberalised remittance schemes. It is only monies kept by resident Indian outside these categories which become actionable.”
Jaitley also credited the demonetisation drive for bringing back undeclared cash into the banking system while saying, “The demonetisation led to a lot of people in possession of undeclared cash depositing the same in the banking system. The source of the money was now questioned. Almost 18 lakh people were identified who had made deposits disproportionate to their returned incomes.”
He further highlighted that with the implementation of GST, it has become difficult for tax evaders to manipulate or hide the net income,
“The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as a single consolidated tax has had a significant impact even on direct taxes. Those who have disclosed a business turnover for the GST now find it difficult not to disclose their net income for the purposes of income tax,” Jaitley said.
Rubbishing reports that hinted at the futility of demonetisation, GST and other tax reforms, Jaitley said, “Those who participate in a public discourse must understand these basic facts before expressing an opinion which may be ill-informed. To assume that all the deposits are per se tax evaded money or that Switzerland in the matter of illegal deposits is what it was decades ago is to start on a shaky presumption.”