A fixed line telephone and a calculator sit next to a pair of spectacles. (Photographer Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Taxman To Pay Up To Rs 1 Crore Reward For Tip-Offs On Unaccounted Wealth

Anyone providing information to the taxman about unaccounted wealth in India can now win a reward of up to Rs 1 crore.

That’s part of the government’s latest crackdown on tax evasion and black money as it revised an existing reward plan and launched a new ‘Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme’, according to a statement by the Finance Ministry.

The information about benami properties held via proxies will have to be given in a prescribed format and should include credible details of the property, name and address of the person in whose name it has been acquired, and evidence for the information that the property is actually held through proxies, according to a statement.

The format seeks details like the date when transaction took place, the amount involved, who paid the amount and the mode of payment. Identities of the informants would be kept anonymous, but the form asks individuals to mention their name, address, contact number, Aadhaar number, among other details.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had withdrawn about 86 percent of the currency in circulation in November 2016 to target black money and tax evasion. A closer scrutiny of high-value payments followed. It also brought a Benami Transactions (prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016. Any property acquired in the name of a person other than close family members or in fiduciary capacity is liable to be attached and confiscated under the law. All persons involved in such transactions face up a jail term of up to seven years.

Benami Property Reward

An informant can be given an interim reward of up to 1 percent of the fair market value of the property with a cap of Rs 10 lakh for a single property. That’s only if the property has been provisionally attached based on the information. A final reward, which would be 5 percent of fair market value of the property with a cap of Rs 1 crore, after judicial proceedings to confiscate it are complete.

“The confiscation shall be deemed to be final if two years have passed from the date of confiscation and there is no litigation pending against such confiscation,” the Finance Ministry statement said.

The amount paid to an informant won’t be disclosed to any authority except when required under any law, or by order of any court of law. Documents relating to identity and information would remain confidential.

A person won’t be entitled to any reward if the information is submitted through channels like a letter, e-mail, WhatsApp or by posting details on social networking sites. Also, state or central government officials or employees of any government-owned entity are not eligible for the reward.

A foreigner willing to provide information will have to contact the member of investigation at Central Board of Direct Taxes in person or by post.

Up To Rs 5 Crore For Information On Overseas Assets

The Income Tax Department increased the reward on information provided about evasion of income tax or assets held. For tipping off about undisclosed income or assets in the country, the amended scheme recommends maximum interim reward of Rs 10 lakh with a ceiling of Rs 50 lakh for final reward. That’s up from Rs 1 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, respectively, earlier.

An informant can get up to Rs 5 crore for information about income and assets held outside India, actionable under Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.

If information provided by an individual is found eligible for reward under both the schemes, the maximum reward will be restricted to Rs 1 crore for assets in India and Rs 5 crore for assets outside the country.