Tax Crackdown on India’s super-rich tax avoiders
Lamborghini rolled out its new $580,000 supercar onto the streets of India this month, but local millionaires tempted to buy the flashy convertible could hit a bump in the road thanks to the taxman.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to crack down on tax avoidance- notorious in India especially among the super rich -- to tackle yawning inequality in the world's second-most populous nation.
Figures published last month for the first time since 2000 showed just how few of India's top earners pay tax. Only six people earning over 500 million rupees ($7.4 million) filed returns in 2012-13.
The numbers are hard to square with the estimated 2,100 ultra-wealthy Indians whose net worth exceeds $50 million, according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, or a Forbes list that found 84 billionaires.
New Delhi's glitziest hotels host week-long, multi-million dollar weddings, drawing thousands of guests, with parties awash with Veuve Clicquot and DJs flown in from Ibiza.
But now the government's top taxman is looking to join the dots, by cross-checking income declarations with data from luxury car dealerships -- as well as property registers, fixed bank deposits and stock market transactions.
"The people in the higher bracket are not paying the correct amount of taxes. This is a fact," revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia told AFP of the new initiative.
"We need to do something about it. We are taking a lot of enforcement action."
Billions of dollars in unpaid taxes deprive the Indian government of revenues that could be spent on changing lives in a country where 270 million people survive on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.