During their electoral campaign in 2014, Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party promised to ‘bring back’ black money stashed abroad within 100 days of coming to power. Though almost halfway through Modi’s term, this promise remained unfulfilled, with the Government’s efforts to address the issue of black money resulting in only occasional big bang actions. These efforts have ranged from setting up a ‘special investigation team’ for probing the problem of black money, to passing stringent anti black money legislation, and also the opening of two voluntary (but narrow) disclosure windows in relation to undisclosed foreign and domestic assets respectively. Actions also included increased scrutiny of filings, by the introduction of ‘annual information returns’ for high value transactions, and the disclosure of ‘aadhaar number’ and passport number in income tax returns. Our May 2016 blog article took you through the problem of black money and India’s response to the same.

However, the sudden decision to demonetise India’s highest-denomination currency notes took the entire nation by surprise. Since midnight on November 8th, 2016, notes in denominations of ₹500 and ₹1000 are no longer legal tender and have been withdrawn. The bold step taken by the Government has had not only financial, but also social and legal repercussions for citizens. This surgical strike against black money hoarders has plunged into fear and uncertainty millions of honest taxpayers and common citizens holding cash savings. Pursuant to the demonetization scheme, the Indian banking system is witnessing the deposit of large sums of unaccounted and untaxed money; which some foresee, may be diverted towards welfare schemes and used to inject more liquidity into the lending system. Also, as many citizens are in possession of huge amounts of undeclared and untaxed cash reserves, they are struggling to find legal ways to convert the same into the new currency, and yet escape scrutiny and surveillance by the authorities. Continue Reading New Taxation Amendment Bill: Last Chance for Cash Hoarders to Come Clean

Indian society is predominantly a family oriented society, both at the social familial level, and almost equally so at the business level. Indian society lays strong emphasis on family values, loyalty (to the family) and inclusion. There are unsaid dynamics that define and drive family relationships, especially concerning authority and hierarchy. Family ties, age and gender play an important, if not the only role, in decision making. This kind of structure is not unique to any particular religious community as a vast majority of traditional Indian business families, irrespective of their religious backgrounds or beliefs, will display these characteristics.

Traditional Hindu families have adopted the teachings from the two major ancient Indian mythological epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. These epics have been imbibed to such a great extent in the mind and conscience of Indian society, that the values and thoughts therein still evoke reverence. Continue Reading The Indian Model of Family Governance

The problem of ‘black money’ has plagued India for a while and has become a major political issue in the recent past. In this brief piece, we examine the measures the Government of India (GOI) seeks to implement to address this problem and how this fits into a larger and a more global problem of tax evasion. To those unaware with the concept of black money, ‘black money’ essentially refers to undisclosed funds and monies, on which income and other taxes have not been paid. There are also additional concerns on the acquisition of such funds and the underlying activities through which such funds may have been realised. Recent reports have thrown up astronomical figures to quantify India’s ‘black money’ economy but even on a conservative estimate, one could peg this at INR. 28 Trillion (approximately USD 40 billion), a staggering 30% of India’s gross domestic product.

Most of India’s blacCoins k money is concealed in offshore jurisdictions and may have been typically exported in violation of India’s foreign exchange control regime. The Swiss National Bank estimates that in Swiss banks alone, deposits by Indian citizens aggregated to INR. 92.95 Billion (over a billion USD) by the end of end of 2010.

Continue Reading India’s Disclosure Regime For Black Money – The Way Forward

Background

In December of 2015, the Delhi High Court in its decision in Sujata Sharma (“Judgement”) laid to rest a long-standing and archaic traditional notion in Indian Hindu succession law (“Succession Law”): this notion effectively prevented a woman member of a Hindu Undivided Family (“HUF”) from acting as the karta (manager/ person-in charge of a HUF). To those unaware of these concepts under Succession Law, a HUF is a construct under Hindu law that comprises of all persons lineally descended from a common ancestor within four generations. Briefly put, a HUF may be considered as a concern that is comprised of stakeholders who share a common lineage and as a concern that holds property and undertakes commerce or other activities, for the benefit of its stakeholders.

Continue Reading Modernising the Traditional Hindu family