Tax evasion a crime

Special Investigation Team (SIT) chaired by Justice M.B. Shah has recently submitted its report along with some suggestions. The team was dealing with the investigation of black money stashed by Indian nationals in foreign banks. Recovery of this black money has been a burning question first with the UPA and now with NDA Government. The report discloses to have traced Rs 4,479 crore held by Indians in a Swiss bank and unaccounted wealth worth Rs 14,958 crore within India. From this report we find that the SIT has highlighted the legal aspect of tax evasion as a difficulty in retrieving the money on which tax payment is evaded and stashed in foreign banks. It has made a pointed suggestion that tax evasion should be made a criminal offence and should not remain in civil domain. Tax evasion in India is only a civil offence and as such foreign countries do not respond to the request of the Government of India to disclose the monies that have been stashed by Indian citizens in their banks. But if tax evasion is made a criminal offence by an act of the Parliament, then foreign countries cannot evade or dodge India’s request for disclosure of money on which tax has been evaded.
We think this is a very sensible suggestion which the Government should have no difficulty in accepting. A country that is struggling so hard to come out of poverty and backwardness will be done great disservice by those who evade taxes and deprive ordinary Indian of great developmental benefits.  From this angle, the suggestion of the Shah Committee carries weight. We hope the Government will adopt the right approach to the suggestion and accept it.


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