Cabinet clears bill to keep an eye on benami transactions

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moneyThe Union Cabinet on 13 May cleared Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Bill aiming at curbing the generation of domestic black money.

Apart from confiscation, the bill mandates prosecution and aims to act as a major avenue for blocking generation and holding black money in the form of benami property, especially in real estate.

The government had in Budget 2015-16, presented at the end of February, announced that it would come out with a new and more comprehensive Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill.

Though it enacted in 1988, but the rules under that Act could not be formulated due to inherent infirmities in it.

Following this, in 2011 the government introduced in Parliament a Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill which proposed replacing the 1988 Act.

The Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance for examination which submitted its report in June 2012. However, the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of 15th Lok Sabha.

A leading tax professional said many of these people with undisclosed offshore bank accounts are exploiting loopholes in tax and foreign exchange laws. Using their contacts they are arranging job appointment letters from firms in countries such as the UAE and Singapore.

According to FEMA, Indian citizens employed abroad are considered nonresidents; while according to the income tax law, such persons are required to stay out of India for at least 182 days in a financial year to claim non-resident status.

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