Tax­men Likely to Sum­mon In­di­ans in Panama Pa­pers

State­ment on oath may be recorded; no­tices likely within two months

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Sachin.Dave@ times­group.com

Mum­bai: The in­come-tax de­part­ment is likely to sum­mon all those In­di­ans whose names ap­peared in the Panama Pa­pers and seek sworn dec­la­ra­tions on whether they held any undis­closed off­shore ac­counts, and the pur­pose if that is the case, said peo­ple deal­ing with the mat­ter.

Names of about 500 In­di­ans, in­clud­ing top in­dus­tri­al­ists and Bol­ly­wood ac­tors, fea­tured in the mil­lions of doc­u­ments leaked from Mos­sack Fon­seca, the Panama law firm that is at the cen­tre of a mas­sive global con­tro­versy for al­legedly help­ing wealthy and pow­er­ful peo­ple in mak­ing shady and se­cret in­vest­ments. The move to sum­mon the In­di­ans comes two weeks af­ter the tax de­part­ment sent no­tices to about 50 of them. The time pe­riod for which I-T can re­open cases to check if tax was paid prop­erly

The per­sons were asked how their names fea­tured in the doc­u­ments. The govern­ment is check­ing whether they si­phoned off money earned in In­dia to tax havens, or vi­o­lated any law while mak­ing in­vest­ments abroad. “Sum­mons would be sent to ev­ery­one (named in the pa­pers). Then their state­ment on oath would be recorded,” said a per­son with knowl­edge of the mat­ter. The no­tices could be sent within two months.

The en­force­ment direc­torate, a fi­nance min­istry wing that probes money-laun­der­ing cases, may also as­sist the tax de­part­ment in the in­ves­ti­ga­tions, es­pe­cially in col­lect­ing ev­i­dences, peo­ple in the know said.

An email sent to the of­fice of the rev­enue sec­re­tary seek­ing com­ment didn’t elicit any re­sponse un­til press time on Tues­day. Le­gal and tax ex­perts said their clients linked to the Panama Pa­pers are wor­ried about mak­ing state­ment on oath be­cause they can­not change it later. Many of them also fear ha­rass­ment by tax of­fi­cers, a tax con­sul­tant said.

“The tax of­fi­cers can de­mand ex­pla­na­tions of in­come gen­er­ated and tax paid in the last 16 years,” said the tax con­sul­tant, who is help­ing a client in the Panama leak is­sue. This means, the tax de­part­ment can dig up cases from as early as 2000 to see if taxes had been paid.

In­dia is also con­sid­er­ing seek­ing in­for­ma­tion from the Panama govern­ment about the In­di­ans linked to the Panama Pa­pers, said a per­son in the know.

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