TAX EVASION INDIAN STYLE: CRIMINAL OR CIVIL OFFENSE?
Judicial authorities in India are recommending that the country adopt a similar position as the United States with respect to offshore bank accounts. While investigating the “black money” held in undeclared Swiss bank accounts by 628 wealthy Indians, two of the judges recommended that tax evasion should constitute a criminal offense and not simply a civil one.
The scandal has been at the forefront of both political discussion and legal debate since there is a fine line that is being straddled between disclosing and punishing these tax evaders versus violating the confidentiality clause from the Indian-Swiss tax treaty. According to the treaty, these account names can only be revealed once charges identifying the specific individual have been filed.
In India, “black money” has always been an obstacle to tax collection. Black money constitutes undeclared income that has been “hidden,” profits from the undervaluation of exports, and earnings from fake invoices or unaccounted-for goods. Black money not only affects the national treasury, but has fueled corruption, too. According to the judges, classifying tax evasion as a criminal offense, and dealing with these lawbreakers more strictly should serve as a deterrent.
HAND IT OVER, MICROSOFT?
In conjunction with its audit of Microsoft’s cost-sharing transfer pricing methods for the 2004-2006 tax years, the I.R.S. has filed a petition for enforcement of an issued summons for 50 types of documents, including those relating to marketing, R&D, financial projections, revenue targets, employees, studies, and surveys.