To increase black money disclosure, govt promises confidentiality

WITH just two more weeks to go before the much-talked about Income Declaration Scheme (IDS), 2016, comes to an end, the government looked to encourage declarations under the black money window assuring declarants that information revealed under the scheme will be kept confidential and not shared even with department officials.

The Finance Ministry also directed the Income Tax department to keep their offices open until the midnight of September 30, the last day for declaration under the scheme.

The government stated that declaration filed with jurisdictional principal commissioner/commissioner shall not be shared with any authority within or outside the department including the jurisdictional assessing officer.

Payments under the scheme will not be reflected in Form 26 AS, which contains details of all taxes paid by a taxpayer. “In respect of declarations filed with the Commissioner of Income-tax, Centralised Processing Centre, Bengaluru, the declaration shall not be shared even with the jurisdictional Principal Commissioner / Commissioner and payments made under the Scheme shall not be visible to the jurisdictional officers,” the ministry said.

The government is stepping up effort to popularise the scheme which has received a tepid response so far. The income tax department has received disclosures of just over Rs 1,000 crore under the scheme till the first week of September, as per reports.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced the scheme in this year’s budget, which enables people to come clean by paying total tax of 45 per cent on the black money for 2015-16 and earlier years. While the budget did not account for any funds from the scheme in its revenue estimates, the government was hoping to get a substantial chunk from these disclosures.

“Declarations are expected to go up as the deadline for black money window comes closer,” a top finance ministry official said. To protect confidentiality under the scheme, even the assessing officers will not be able to access details of declarants under the scheme.

“The payments under the Scheme shall neither be reflected in 26 AS statement nor can be viewed by the Assessing Officer in the Online Tax Accounting System (OLTAS) of the Department in the interest of confidentiality,” it said.

“In order to facilitate the filing of declarations even after the office hours, the Principal Chief Commissioners are instructed to ensure that the counters for receiving the declarations under IDS, 2016 remain open till the midnight of September 30, 2016 in all jurisdictions,” the CBDT said in an order on Thursday.

The CBDT, while issuing its sixth clarification on the IDS recently, had ruled out any extension of the four-month window that ends onSeptember 30. The government had also extended the deadline for payment of tax and penalty under IDS and allowed declarants to pay the amount in three instalments by September 30 next year.

Payments can also be made through cash deposits.

The first instalment of 25 per cent under the IDS 2016 will have to be paid by November 2016, followed by another 25 per cent by March 31, 2017. The remaining amount will have to be paid to the exchequer by September 30, 2017.

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