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Tax sleuths offer bargain to draw data from Swiss bank account holders
August, 25th 2014

The Income Tax department has urged known Swiss Bank account holders to come forth, in exchange for a lesser penalty, with details of black money deposits they have stashed away overseas, according to an official note. Acting on orders from the CBDT to bring such evaders under the tax net, the Finance Ministry’s probe wing has offered such persons the bargain of not being tried under the “wilful evaders” category if they will approach their banks for details of their personal balances and submit them to Indian agencies.

The tax effect in these cases is reportedly estimated at about Rs.50-80 crore.

Faced with non-cooperation from Switzerland, which has withheld information about illegal account holders citing “domestic legal barriers” and “treaty limitations”, the probe wing has confronted those named in secret lists obtained through “official and unofficial” channels during the last financial year. According to the note accessed by PTI, over 100 such accountholders — spread across cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Chandigarh and Bangalore — have agreed to the new mechanism. “The tax effect in these cases could be about Rs. 50-80 crore and this instance is one of the few where secret bank data of an Indian client was obtained despite strict secrecy laws of Swiss authorities in force in this regard,” sources privy to the development said on condition of anonymity.

The Special Investigation Team unearthing black money has, on the back of the data, submitted a report to the Supreme Court. The Income Tax department, the note said, has begun prosecution action in these over 100 cases and they will be charged for evasion of taxes on this hidden income.

The taxman has also initiated action to discover the “source of income” of these entities so as to unearth any other instance of tax evasion linked to these accounts.

“While bank authorities in Switzerland did not extend help when the names of these account holders were sent to them under existing protocols of tax information exchange treaties, information was readily available when the accountholder was himself or herself motivated to approach the bank to obtain his transactions history and balances,” the sources said.

The Swiss government has been refusing to share details about the Indians named in the so called ‘HSBC list’, which was stolen by a bank employee and found its way to tax authorities in various countries, including India.

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