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Govt negotiating tax treaties to curb black money menace

The government is re-negotiating bilateral treaties to limit tax benefits to genuine investments and curb the routing of domestic money to safe havens abroad.

twitter-logoPTI | December 17, 2014 | Updated 20:19 IST
Govt negotiating tax pacts to curb illicit wealth flows
(Photo: Reuters)

The government is re-negotiating bilateral treaties with many countries to limit tax benefits to genuine investments and curb the routing of domestic money to safe havens abroad, in a bid to check illicit financial flows across borders, a senior Finance Ministry official said on day.

While noting that the quantum of domestic black money would be no less than what is supposed to be stashed abroad, Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das said that the government is re-negotiating many of the tax treaties to deal with the issues of Limitation of Benefits.

"Because, if there is a tax haven and if the funds are routed through the tax haven then we have to work on the whole concept of limitation of benefits," Das said.

"For the entire quantum of black money, I think, nobody has any estimate. But I can say that quantum of domestic black money is no less than what is supposed to have been or said to have been stashed abroad," he added.

The comments come at a time when the Supreme Court-constituted Special Investigation Team (SIT) has detected funds worth about Rs 4,479 crore held by Indians in a Swiss branch of HSBC bank, while unaccounted wealth totalling Rs 14,958 crore has been traced within the country.

The SIT has also made a number of suggestions to check the black money menace, including by way of re-negotiation of various treaties signed by the government with foreign countries.

"We are renegotiating many of the taxation treaties which are dealing with issue of capital gains. We are dealing with the issue of harmful tax practices and we are dealing with BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) in a manner that due recognition is given to where economic activities takes place.

In other words, if we are dealing with MNCs... which may be located in tax havens or the US, and business can be in India, China or elsewhere. So, while sharing the taxation, due weightage should be given to countries like India and China where economic activities take place," the Das added.

The Revenue Secretary also said the government was committed towards bringing a moderate, predictable, non-adversarial and investor friendly tax regime which would help to deliver on the 'Make in India' initiative and promote ease of doing business in the country.

"The tax department is moving towards putting in place an investor friendly and facilitative tax system which would help to deliver on the 'Make in India' initiative and promote ease of doing business in India," Das said at an event organised by industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

He said that the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) have recently issued circulars which are non-adversarial, and also set up committees to evaluate the feasibility of Tax Administration Reform commission (TARC) recommendations.

"The revenue department is open to change its culture and make tax administration more effective, bring in a moderate tax structure as well as enable ease of doing business," Das said.

The Revenue Secretary said in order to reduce tax litigations, the department is proposing to set up a full time and dedicated dispute resolution panels which will be manned by trained officials.

At present, a group of three Commissioners, who hold different posts in the department, in addition to their responsibilities, sit together and try to work on particular issue which has been placed before them.

"Now we are going have dedicated dispute resolution panels and this whole arrangement will work as separate vertical within the department," Das said.

The ministry will also set up a separate vertical to monitor utilisation of exemptions provided by the central government, he said. The revenue department provides tax exemptions over Rs 2 lakh crore to NGOs and institutions.

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