Over 60,000 Indians have come forward over the past four months to declare a collective $9.5 billion in income that was never reported or taxed, this was recently announced by India's finance minister Arun Jaitley. They have declared a total of $.9.5 billion in black money as part of a one-time opportunity to come clean under a government scheme.
The government reportedly contacted oevr 700,000 suspected tax evaders earlier this year, urging them to declare hidden income and assets. They were told they would not be pursued by the authorities if they came clean and paid a penalty. Around 65,000 people came in a 4-month window that ended by the September month end, providing illegal income and asset holders to pay a tax surcharge and penalty totaling 45% to avoid prosecution.
Those who came forward included a group of street food owners in Mumbai who are said to have declared nearly $7.5m.
However, it does not account for money stashed in Swiss banks and overseas tax havens which some government investigators believe amounts to around $500bn.
Undeclared income or ‘black money’ is a huge issue in India. Even during India's 2014 elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to crack down on corruption and black money.
Importantly, the Modi government was facing opposition to the action since the release of the so-called Panama Papers in April, 2016, which listed individuals and companies (500 Indians) that had avoided taxes by setting up shell companies in Panama.