India for removal of distinction between tax evasion and fraud

New Delhi: India has decided to press for removal of distinction between tax evasion and tax fraud which has helped Indians conceal their income in tax havens abroad. This is part of India’s drive to get back the stashed money.

Sources said that a number of countries have refused to give information on the ground that tax evasion was not an offence under their law but if tax fraud was included they will cooperate.

The point was forcefully made at G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Paris last week end.

Pointing out that different definitions of expressions like “tax evasion” and “tax frauds” leads to problems, Mr. Mukherjee said there was a need to harmonize them that countries can exchange information without any hindrance.

“Some countries/jurisdictions differentiate between tax fraud and tax evasion. This difference in perception assists deliberate concealment of wealth for the purpose of evading tax, something regarded as crime all over the world, and impedes effective exchange of information.

“We should encourage countries to remove this distinction in order to help efforts of government authorities in pursuing tax cheats who have parked funds outside the country”, he said in his address at the ministerial meeting at the G-20.

The Minister further said that India was in the process of revising its Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with all the 78 countries which whom it had signed such agreements.

“Revision of DTAA with 10 countries have been completed and many more are in the offing”, he said. Revised DTAA will help in seeking banking information about the offenders.

He also raised the issue of ill-gotten money being stashed abroad during his bilateral meetings with French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and his German counterpart Wolfgang Scheuble.

Mr. Mukherjee, who is spearheading the fight against tax evasion at G-20 grouping, said that about 500 tax information exchange agreements have been signed between different countries across the world, a development that would help in the fighting the menace tax evasion and track ill-gotten money.

The Minister also underlined the case for collective action against those countries which refuse to part with tax and banking information essential for tracking slush funds.