New Delhi– Unaccounted wealth worth Rs 65,250 crore was declared by 64,275 people under the Income Declaration Scheme with scope for upward revision once the full tabulation is completed, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced on Saturday.
Given the tax rate, penalty and surcharge of 45 per cent, this can fetch the government a little under Rs 30,000 crore. In the previous 1997 scheme, the taxation figure was about Rs 9,760 crore.
Briefing reporters on the scheme that was available from June 1 till the midnight of September 30, the Finance Minister said the tax authorities were still tabulating the declarations, both in physical and electronic form.
“So this (declarations) could be revised upward once the full tabulation takes place,” Jaitley said, adding that the money collected would go into the Consolidated Fund of India and will be used for social security purposes.
“Roughly, the declarations work out to Rs 1 crore per declarant. Some will be higher, some will be lower,” he said, but ruled out any revelation of the names of the people who have availed of the scheme. “We won’t give any specific information on tax declarants.”
Within minutes of the media briefing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the achievement.
“I compliment all those who chose to be tax compliant in the Income Declaration Scheme-2016. This is a great contribution towards transparency & growth of the economy,” Modi said in a tweet.
“Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairperson Rani Nair and the team have put in tremendous effort on all aspects relating to IDS-2016. Congrats to them,” he said, while also praising Jaitley and his team for the “tremendous work” they have made.
The Finance Minister said the latest scheme should be viewed along with the numerous other steps the government has taken to ensure unaccounted wealth is declared and more people become tax compliant.
In this regard he mentioned the setting up of the Special Investigation Team to probe such cases, the rehaul of the Benami Act to help the state take over such assets and the follow-up on expose by various agencies of wealth stashed abroad, along with a specific scheme in this regard.
“In such large numbers people came to disclose income in eight figures. They have realised that they will benefit by tax compliance. Considering all the steps taken by government cumulatively, these are very significant amounts,” the Finance Minister said.
“The amount received from other schemes, and from foreign black money scheme, is over and above this (the declaration scheme). This is an important step towards more and more people becoming tax-compliant. This I see as a positive development,” Jaitley said.
He had categorically said more than once that the latest scheme was not an amnesty.
“This is not an immunity scheme. There is tax involved and there is penalty,” he said, referring to the tax of 30 per cent, a penalty of 7.5 per cent and a surcharge of another 7.5 per cent, which was prescribed for the declarants.
“In the 1997 scheme, the taxation figure was about Rs 9,760 crore. The average per declarant was Rs 97 lakh. Now, the effective rate of taxation is 45 per cent, but in 1997 the effective rate of taxation was in single digit. The two schemes are entirely different.”
He also made it clear that there will be no witch hunt by the authorities.
“The department does not intend to be vindictive. Declarants will be treated under relevant tax laws, irrespective of filing under the Income Disclosure Scheme. Regarding the action henceforth, this is an issue of tax department. Individual taxmen will not take vindictive action.”