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Govt to seek views online on tough law against tax evasion
June, 15th 2011

After the Opposition parties and experts differed on the government's plan to make tax evasion a criminal offence, the finance ministry on Tuesday decided to launch a dedicated portal inviting suggestions on the issue from the public and all other stakeholders through email.

A formal announcement about the email ID, blackmoney@nic.in, will be made after the web page to handle a public opinion survey is prepared by the government's National Informatics Centre (NIC). The NIC is responsible for implementation of information and communication technology solutions for all government initiatives.

A high-level committee on black money headed by Central Board of Direct Taxes chairman in its first meeting last week had suggested considering making tax evasion a criminal offence. However, in view of mounting opposition to the proposal, which is under consideration of CBDT, the finance ministry has decided to seek a wider debate by inviting opinion from all stakeholders.

The email link will be provided on the finance ministry website and all opinions voiced on the portal will be analysed to arrive at an informed opinion on the subject, a senior finance ministry official said.

First to register his protest on the proposal was former finance minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha who had said the government was "trying to overdo things" as it was constantly under pressure.

"Any law that the government is drafting has to be carefully thought through and clear distinction should be made between minor evasion and major evasion of ill-gotten wealth," the former finance minister had told TOI.

The high-level committee consists of chiefs of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate , Financial Intelligence Unit and senior officials from ministries of finance and law. It is examining the existing legal and administrative framework to deal with the menace of generation of black money through illegal means.

The terms of reference of the committee include declaring wealth generated illegally as national asset; amending or enacting laws to confiscate and recover such assets; and providing for exemplary punishment against its perpetrators.

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