NEW DELHI: With general elections less than a year away, the ruling government has intensified its campaign against black money. It has introduced two schemes that will reward a person up to 1 crore for providing information on any case of income tax evasion, benami property or black money trail.
The government claims that the two schemes — Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme 2018 and Income Tax Informants Reward Scheme 2018 — are aimed at encouraging people to give information about benami transactions and properties and income earned on such properties by such hidden investors and beneficial owners. The schemes will encourage participation of people in crackdown on black money and benami transactions, it said.
Under the first scheme, a person, even a foreign individual, can get a reward of up to `1 crore for giving specific information in a prescribed manner to the Joint or Additional Commissioners of Benami Prohibition Units in Investigation Directorates of Income Tax Department under Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016.
“Foreigners will also be eligible for such a reward. Identity of the persons giving information will not be disclosed and strict confidentiality shall be maintained,” Finance Ministry said.
The Income Tax Informants Reward Scheme supersedes an earlier reward scheme issued in 2007. Under the revised scheme, a person can be rewarded up to Rs 50 lakh for giving specific information in a prescribed manner to the designated officers of Investigation Directorates in Income Tax Department about substantial evasion of tax on income or assets in India, which are actionable under the Income Tax Act, 1961.
The move serves to build rhetoric in the election year around black money, which remained one of the trump cards that ensured a thumping victory for the Modi government in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. However, with recent cases of fugitives like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and others fleeing the country with huge amounts, the rhetoric has failed to impress the voters, as is evident in the recent bypolls.
These schemes will help the government regain its image of being serious about its drive against black money.