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Signalling a crackdown on tax evasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his monthly radio address Mann ki Baat on Sunday, said a tax amnesty scheme for disclosure of undisclosed income and property would not be extended beyond the September 30 deadline and it was the “last chance” for people to join a “transparent system”. Mr. Modi also spoke of the declaration of Emergency, 41 years ago this June, and how things had changed, with an open assessment of the government, and “open mocking” of even his radio address, a sign of democracy.
On the tax amnesty scheme, Mr. Modi said: “For those having undisclosed income, the government has provided a special chance to declare it by September 30.
“I have promised that there will be no inquiry into the source of the undisclosed income and assets if the declaration is made voluntarily. That is why I am saying it is a good chance for becoming a part of the transparent system.
“Let me tell the countrymen that this chance is till September 30. Consider this as the last chance,” he said.
The Prime Minister said he had told MPs from the BJP that if anybody faced any problem after September 30 for not abiding by the rules, no help should be provided to them.
Sources in the BJP said Mr. Modi had said this in his address to the party’s national executive that had met in Allahabad earlier this month.
The Prime Minister said there was a time when taxation rules were such that people would tend to avoid paying taxes. “But gradually, times changed. Now, for a taxpayer, it is not much difficult to abide by the government rules. Still, old habits die hard,” he said, adding there were still people who felt that it was better to avoid paying taxes.
“My plea is that by running away from rules, we lose our peace. Any small person can harass us. Why should we let it happen? Why not ourselves give correct information to the government about our income, about our wealth? For once, dispose of the baggage of the past. I appeal to my countrymen to get free from this,” the Prime Minister said.
Referring to his recent interaction with Income Tax, Customs and Excise officials, Mr. Modi said he had told them that they should not consider the countrymen ‘thieves’ but should repose faith in them and ‘hand-hold’ them to encourage them to become law-abiding citizens.
At the same meeting, the Prime Minister said he was informed that only 1.5 lakh people had taxable income of over Rs. 50 lakh.
“This cannot be digested by anybody. One can see lakhs of people with taxable income of over Rs. 50 lakh in big cities. Before taking any tough step, the government wants to give the people a chance. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, there is a golden chance to declare your undisclosed income. In other words, it is a way out of difficulties that will come after September 30. I don’t want you to feel any difficulty after September 30,” Mr. Modi said.
Referring to the Emergency, and comparing the freedom enjoyed by the people now, he said, the government can be openly criticised and even mocked. “This criticism and mocking are possible because we are committed to democracy,” he said.
Recalling the imposition of the Emergency, Mr. Modi said: “All rights of the citizens were taken away. The country was turned into a prison. Along with Jayaprakash Narayan, lakhs of people and thousands of politicians were sent to jail.”
“But today when I am talking to you on June 26, we should not forget that our strength is democracy, our strength is people’s strength and our strength is every citizen. We have to take this commitment further and strengthen it,” the Prime Minister added.