Regulations
Lok Sabha passes black money bill
The Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets bill, providing for heavy penalties for stashing black money away in foreign accounts, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday.
 
Moving what is called the Black Money Bill for acceptance by the lower house, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rejected the opposition's demand of referring the bill to the Standing Committee, saying delay in enacting the legislation would provide opportunity to offenders to transfer unaccounted overseas wealth quickly to unknown destinations.
 
"The Bill (introduced in March) has no connection with domestic black money," Jaitley said replying to the debate on the bill.
 
"For the first time, unlawful, undisclosed income abroad has been taxed under this law at a tax rate of 30 percent with an additional 30 percent penalty on it," he added.
 
Explaining that a time-frame will be provided as a "compliance window for declaring and paying penalty", Jaitley said that failure to meet the compliance timeline will attract an additional penalty of 90 percent for a total tax liability of 120 percent on the quantum of black money abroad.
 
Besides, law provides for rigorous imprisonment of up to 3-10 years for perpetrators, he added.
 
The finance minister said India was foremost among a large number of countries that were taking interest in the G-20 initiative on automatic transmission of information with regard to monetary transaction.
 
Admitting that there was no official estimation of black money within India or stashed away abroad, Jaitley told parliament last week that the government was examining the reports of three institutes on the matter.
 
"Varying estimations of the amount of illicit money moving out of the country have been reported by different persons/institutions. Such estimations are based upon different sets of facts, data, methods and assumptions, leading to varying inferences," he told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
 
"However, there is no official estimation of the amount of black money stashed abroad or black money taken out of country," he added.
 
The previous United Progressive Alliance government had in March 2011 asked the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) to estimate unaccounted income and wealth inside and outside the country.
 
An unofficial estimate of illegal money stashed away overseas puts it somewhere between $466 billion and $1.4 trillion.

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No pursuit of MAT claims, no reopening old tax demands: CBDT
This follows Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's Friday announcement of a high-level committee for looking into the issue of levy of MAT on FIIs
 
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Monday said it will not issue any new demands for payments, and will take no coercive action to pursue claims that have already been filed under the controversial minimum alternate tax (MAT).
 
This follows Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's Friday announcement of a high-level committee for looking into the issue of levy of MAT on FIIs.
 
"In the light of FM's announcement, officers dealing with International Taxes have been advised that no coercive action be taken for recovery of demand already raised by invoking provisions of MAT in the cases for foreign companies. Issues of fresh notices for reopening of cases as also completion of assessment should also be put on hold unless the case is getting barred by limitation," a CBDT circular said here.
 
Replying to the debate on the Finance Bill, 2015-16, in the Rajya Sabha last week, Jaitley said that he had received a large number of representations on MAT applicable to FIIs as well as a few other tax issues, which are essentially legacy issues, and these would be referred to a committee headed by Justice A.P. Shah, the chairman of the Law Commission.
 
Jaitley had announced exempting FIIs from paying MAT on the capital gains earned by them, but soon after the income tax department sent notice to at least 90 foreign portfolio investors (FPIs).
 
With the uncertainty created by MAT, foreign investors sold around $630 million in Indian shares and bonds on Wednesday, marking the biggest single-day sales since January 2014.
 
As per preliminary depositary data, it was the biggest single day sell-off since foreign investors sold around a net $877 million on January 27, 2014, when emerging markets suffered from withdrawals sparked by fears of the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates.
 
Shares and bonds wiped out entire gains for the year over the past few weeks, with the Nifty down 11 percent since hitting a record high on March 4.

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Ramalinga Raju, others get bail in Satyam case
A city court on Monday granted bail to B. Ramalinga Raju and all other accused in multi-crore-rupee accounting fraud.
 
The metropolitan sessions court granted bail to Satyam Computers Services Limited (SCSL) founder Ramalinga Raju and his brother Rama Raju on a personal bond amount of Rs.1 lakh each.
 
Another brother Suryanarayana Raju and seven others were given bail with bonds of Rs.50,000 each.
 
Raju, the kingpin of the scam, and other convicts, currently lodged in Cherlapally Central Prison here, had filed the bail application besides challenging their conviction and sentences.
 
The additional chief metropolitan magistrate's court on April 9 had found them guilty in the case relating to the country's biggest accounting fraud, which came to light in 2009.
 
The court had sentenced them to seven years' rigorous imprisonment. It also imposed a fine of Rs.5.5 crore each on Ramalinga Raju and Rama Raju.

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