Citizens' Issues
Black money abroad declaration form can be filed online
The government has notified the form for declaring income and assets abroad as well rules for their calculation under the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets Bill and these can also be filed online, parliament was told on Friday.
 
"A declaration under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 (the Act) may be made before designated tax authority in Form 6 which may also be filed online," Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
 
"Where the declaration is found to be in accordance with the provisions of section 71 (d) of the Act, the declarant is required to pay the requisite tax and penalty on the assets eligible for declaration latest by December 31, 2015 and intimate the designated tax authority," he said.
 
"After the intimation of payment by the declarant, the designated tax authority will issue an acknowledgement of the accepted declaration within 15 days of such intimation of payment of tax and penalty by the declarant," he added.
 
As per the Black Money Act, the declaration is not admissible in evidence against the declarant in any penalty or prosecution under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, the minister said.
 
The act providing for heavy penalties for stashing away black money in foreign accounts came into force earlier this month, and rules have been notified for calculating income and assets abroad under it.
 
The value of the overseas assets, including immovable property, jewellery and precious stones, archaeological collections and paintings, shares and securities and shares in unlisted firms abroad will be calculated at the fair market value, said the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)earlier this month.
 
The value of an overseas bank account will be the sum of all deposits made in the account since its opening, the notification said.
 
The Black Money Act for the first time allows levy of tax in India on assets kept abroad.
 
Unlawful, undisclosed income abroad has been taxed under this law at a rate of 30 percent with an additional 30 percent penalty on it.
 
The law provides a compliance window for declaring and paying penalty. Failure to meet it will attract an additional penalty of 90 percent for a total tax liability of 120 percent on the quantum of black money abroad.
 
The ministry has notified September 30 as the expiry date of the compliance window, while allowing those with undisclosed income and assets abroad time till December 31 to pay the levies.
 
Admitting that there was no official estimation of black money within India or stashed away abroad, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told parliament during the budget session that the government was examining the reports of three institutes on the matter.
 
An unofficial estimate puts the sum somewhere between $466 billion and $1.4 trillion.
 

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145 companies being probed for chit fund scams

West Bengal tops the list of states with companies under investigation both in the last fiscal as well as the current one

 

In its crackdown on corporate fraud and chit fund scams, the government has, during the last three years and current year, ordered investigations of 145 companies allegedly involved in illegal deposit taking, parliament was told on Friday.
 
"'Fraud' has been defined as a substantive offence in the Companies Act, 2013 and its section 143(12) requires the auditor of a company to report any fraud to the board of directors or audit committee of that company or to the central government, depending on the amount of fraud," Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
 
West Bengal tops the list of states with companies under investigation both in the last fiscal as well as the current one.

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'Farmer suicide report a cover-up'

According to the NCRB report released earlier this month, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of farmers' suicides (2,568) followed by 898 in Telangana and 826 in Madhya Pradesh, while West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand reported zero suicides

 

With agrarian distress being a major crisis accounting for thousands of farming lives every year, the latest data by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which claims the suicide rates among Indian farmers has halved, has triggered scorn, with experts calling it a "hoax" and "manipulative".
 
According to the NCRB's first collated detailed data on farmers' suicides, only 5,650 of them, including women, across the country committed suicide in 2014 as against 11,744 in 2013.
 
According to the NCRB report released earlier this month, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of farmers' suicides (2,568) followed by 898 in Telangana and 826 in Madhya Pradesh, while West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand reported zero suicides.
 
Experts, though, term the report faulty and accuse the central and state governments of resorting to manipulation to "try and cover up" the crisis.
 
Magsaysay-award winning journalist P. Sainath alleged "significant manipulation" in the report, pointing to the NCRB's changed data collection process wherein it has not considered agricultural labourers as farmers.
 
"Confronted with a growing agrarian crisis, with mounting misery, the government is trying to get around it by fiddling with numbers. There is significant manipulation," Sainath told IANS, adding that more states have declared "zero" farm suicides than ever before.
 
The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a Maharashtra based farmers rights group, said the farm suicides have actually gone up as reflected by the NCRB report itself.
 
"Contrary to the NCRB claims that farmer suicides constituted just 4.3 percent of total suicides as against nine percent in 2013, farm suicides have actually gone up," VJAS president Kishor Tiwari told IANS.
 
"The report itself says that 12,360 agricultural suicides have taken place. However, it has not considered the 6,710 agricultural labourers who committed suicide as farmers," Tiwari explained.
 
"Is it believable that not a single farmer committed suicide in West Bengal, Rajasthan or Bihar? There have been regular reports of such deaths from these states. The report has been deliberately fudged, that is why they have not even bothered to get it audited," Tiwari maintained.
 
Tiwari said the VJAS was mulling legal action over the faulty report.
 
"There is no other way but to seek legal recourse. We have moved the NCRB seeking details about the basis of the new methodology and we are awaiting that report. After due analysis of their report, we will chalk out our course of action," Tiwari added.
 
Besides the faulty methodology, some others attributed underreporting by the state governments as another major reason behind the anomaly.
 
"So far as farmers' suicides are concerned, the NCRB data is unreliable because of systematic underreporting with several of high farmers' suicide states reporting zero suicides," Maitreesh Ghatak, a professor at the London School of Economics, told IANS.
 
Ghatak said the definition of farmer that includes only those who own and work on field and excludes agricultural labourers was a major anomaly that provided ample scope to tweak the figures.
 
As per the report, "bankruptcy or indebtedness" was a major cause, accounting for 20.6 percent of farmers' suicides across the country followed by "family problems" (20.1 percent).
 
The other prominent causes were "farming related issues" (17.2 percent), "failure of crop" (16.8 percent) and "illness" (13.2 percent).
 
Incidentally, West Bengal, which has reported zero farmers' suicide, has accounted for 230 suicides by agricultural labourers.
 
The ruling Trinamool Congress, however, refused to admit agrarian distress as the reason behind the deaths.
 
"The NCRB report vindicates our stand. But as regards the suicides by agricultural labourers, according to our findings, in almost all the cases the reasons have been other than those related with agricultural indebtedness," Labour Minister Purnendu Bose told IANS.
 
"Almost all the suicides have been due to marital discords or other familial or social issues," he added.
 
Claiming the NCRB report was part of a deliberate attempt by the central and the state governments to suppress agrarian distress, the Communist Party of India-Marxist said it will raise the issue in parliament.
 
"Thanks to this fabricated data, the Narendra Modi government is making claims of bringing down farmers' suicides. This is nothing but a farce. Farmers' suicides are continuing unabated and this government cannot remain in denial. We will raise the issue in parliament," CPI-M Lok Sabha member from Bengal Mohammad Salim told IANS.

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