The government will give a one-time 'short window' to holders of black money abroad to declare their wealth, pay taxes, penalty and escape prosecution under the proposed stringent law to deal with the menace.
Insisting that it is neither an amnesty nor a Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme, Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das said the only advantage under the scheme would be an escape from prosecution. The source of income declared would be throughly scrutinised.
"A one-time compliance window for a limited and short period of time will be given... The duration of short period will be worked out and will be specified in due course of time," he told PTI in an interview.
Das was elaborating upon Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's Budget proposal to come out with a stringent law to deal with the black money stashed abroad.
He however refused to fix a timeframe of the window. Asked if the window may be for six months or a year, he said, "when I say short window, it means a short window."
Earlier, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha had said the failure to unveil assets abroad would invite a rigorous jail term of up to seven years, while concealment of income and tax evasion would result in 10-year imprisonment.
These provisions will be part of a Bill that the government plans to bring in the current session of Parliament to check the black money menace.
On whether the government would provide a six month-window to people having assets abroad to come clean, Das said "nobody from government has said so...people are speculating outside. All I would say is that there will be a compliance window."
Das further said that it would not be correct to call 'one-time short window' for disclosing overseas assets as any kind of amnesty or voluntary disclosure of income scheme (VDIS).
"Let me say very clearly with lot of emphasis this is not an amnesty scheme. This is not a VDIS kind of scheme which was there 1997-98.
"In amnesty scheme they (persons disclosing assets) just simply have to pay taxes. Here they will be required to pay the tax and pay the penalty and other charges. The only relief
they will get is that they will not be prosecuted...they will have to explain source of money. Source can not be proceed of a crime."
Announcing the scheme in his budget, Jaitley had said that the offences under the new law would be non-compoundable and the overseas account holder would also be required to mandatorily specify the date of opening of foreign account in the return of income.