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I-T lens on foreign accounts of NRIs as govt tightens noose on money-laundering

Tax authorities have added a fresh provision in the Income Tax Return forms that will require NRIs to furnish details of all offshore accounts

Written by: India TV Business Desk, New Delhi [ Published on: July 14, 2017 16:39 IST ]
Govt suspects Indians have moved money from Switzerland to
Govt suspects Indians have moved money from Switzerland to Dubai, Singapore etc

Indians spending 182 days abroad every year to legitimize their money stacked in bank accounts in other countries and evading the scenario of being taxed by claiming -non-resident’ status may soon be a thing of the past. The government, it is learnt, has tweaked reporting norms by adding provisions to the ITR forms that would now require Non Resident Indians to furnish details such as account numbers in overseas banks, name of the banks, countries where the bank offices are located as well as the Swift codes and International Bank Account Numbers (IBAN).

The new provision that will come into effect this year was introduced by Income Tax authorities a few days ago, and will make it difficult for NRIs to claim funds lying in offshore accounts as lawful income earned abroad, Economic Times reported. Most NRIs, even those who have been away for years, file tax return in India to cover their income from stocks, properties and fixed income instruments like bank deposits and bonds.

As per the current norms, only resident Indians had to share details of the offshore bank accounts with the tax authorities. Now, the provision will apply to NRIs as well. The new clause incorporated by the government is believed to be based on the understanding that many Indians have moved money from jurisdictions like Switzerland to newly opened bank accounts in destinations such as Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Efforts in this direction were also visible last year when the Enforcement Directorate had questioned many NRIs over the source of their funds. While NRIs have often resorted to furnishing details limited to the accounts they hold in India while filing returns online, inability to explain assets and fund movements – a violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act – exposes a person to penalty and could even invite cases of money-laundering by the ED.

However, one issue that could prove a sticking point is the absence of a circular or notification to back the change in filing norms.

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