The Government had earlier amended Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, by Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 to make the law stronger. It was found in many cases that black money was invested in properties in the names of others, even though benefits were enjoyed by the investor concealing his beneficial ownership in his tax returns.
With the objective of obtaining people’s participation in the Income Tax Department’s efforts to unearth black money and to reduce tax evasion, a new reward scheme titled Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme, 2018, has been issued by the Income Tax Department. This reward scheme is aimed at encouraging people to give information about benami transactions and properties as well as income earned on such properties by such hidden investors and beneficial owners.
Under the revised scheme, a person can get reward up to Rs. 50 lakh for giving specific information in prescribed manner to the designated officers of Investigation Directorates in Income Tax Department about substantial evasion of tax on income or assets in India which are actionable under the Income-tax Act, 1961.
Further, Government of India had earlier introduced Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, in order to investigate and assess income and specific assets kept in foreign countries by people taxable in India, recover tax on it and take other actions like penalty and prosecution. With the objective of attracting and encouraging people to give information about such income and assets actionable under Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, reward up to Rs. 5 crore has been introduced in the new reward scheme. The amount has been kept high to make it attractive to potential sources in foreign countries. Under this Scheme, a person can get reward for giving specific information in prescribed manner about substantial tax evasion on income and assets abroad which are actionable under Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.
Information under this scheme has to be given in prescribed manner to the Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) or an officer whom he may authorize in this behalf. Foreigners will also be eligible for reward under this scheme. Identity of the persons giving information will not be disclosed and strict confidentiality shall be maintained.