New Delhi: With the four-month domestic black money compliance window getting operational from the next day, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Tuesday said declarants under the scheme have been "firewalled" against regular assessments and will enjoy immunity from prosecution under various laws like the wealth tax and income tax acts.
CBDT Members Rani S Nair and S K Sahai, while participating in a talkathon held on the Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS) by DD News, said black money holders, who do not avail this opportunity that closes on September 30, stand to face the "stringent" provisions of anti-tax evasion laws.
The taxman will "catch" them sometime in a world that is increasingly getting transparent on these issues, they said.
"The department believes in compliance. The scheme is useful for people who are sitting on the fence and they can use the IDS to come clean."
"No questions will be asked from them. Once this window closes and we get to know that a person has black money, we will tax it and the IT department will take action," Mr Sahai said.
Ms Nair said the new tax regime was "moving towards zero tolerance to tax evasion" and those who do not comply, hazard a risk for themselves.
Both Mr Sahai and Ms Nair said that while total "immunity and confidentiality" is ensured to the declarants under the IDS, cases where income is earned from criminal activities like smuggling, drug running and forex violations and those that attract the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act will not be eligible to be considered in the scheme.
"We have firewalled the IDS from returns assessment or levy of Wealth Tax or huge penalty. The department also has assured confidentiality against disclosure of the information related to the declarant, at a later stage," Ms Nair said.
The CBDT members, however, said that in cases where a court seeks information of these declarations, where litigation is ongoing, information could be disclosed by the taxman to the court only.
They said no information about those who declared their black money parked abroad under a similar one-time compliance window that ended last year has become public knowledge and that will be ensured this time too. The declarants should "trust the I-T department".
"No information related to individual proceedings under IDS 2016 will be disclosed to public and there is no prosecution under the scheme," they said.
The officials explained that declarations under the IDS can be made either online on the e-filing portal of the department or to the range Principal Commissioner of I-T where they are assessed.
Government has already made it clear that declarants will be given time up to November 30 to pay taxes, penalty and surcharge totalling 45 per cent at the fair market value.
Ms Nair, while speaking about the consequences for those who possess black money but skip the IDS, said such people should be worried as the tax department is constantly enhancing its technological capabilities to track evaders and in the present scenario where investigative journalists and whistleblowers are bringing to the fore such hidden assets, things would be difficult to hide.
They said all kind of assets like jewellery, costly paintings and vehicles can be declared under the IDS.