The Centre’s move to mop up black money from the economy by giving taxpayers amnesty to declare undisclosed past income by paying tax on it at an effective, slightly high rate of 45 per cent has yielded a surprisingly positive dividend.
The four-month window granted for evaders to come clean opened sluggishly, but eventually over 64,200 assessees disclosed undeclared assets worth at least Rs.65,250 crore.
Stern warnings from the Prime Minister himself about tough action and possible jail terms for those who failed to declare their ‘cartloads’ of black money may have added punch to the Finance Ministry’s pitch.
The haul is considerably higher than the Rs.4,164 crore in assets and black money held abroad disclosed under a similar arrangement with a higher tax rate in 2015. This time, the tax department rightly focussed on demystifying and propagating the scheme, so potential beneficiaries were reassured that they would not be persecuted.
The almost Rs.30,000 crore in taxes being raked in provides a cushion for the Centre on the fiscal deficit management front since it hadn’t set any explicit revenue expectations from the scheme.
The final stocktaking is still on, so the record collections under this scheme, vis-à-vis similar endeavours in the past, could rise further.
The Centre, however, must not consider this the end of its campaign on black money. To put things in context, the average undisclosed income per taxpayer under the scheme stands at Rs.1.01 crore; and though the disclosures are nearly double those in the last income amnesty scheme (around Rs.33,700 crore), nearly two decades have passed since then, making comparisons misleading.
The tax department is aware that Rs.65,250 crore is just the tip of the iceberg — it had sent seven lakh letters to suspected evaders based on information on about 90 lakh high-value transactions that took place without PAN card details.
The tax department must crack down on such evaders and spruce up its data-mining methods to expand the country’s shallow tax base. While the department’s efforts have revealed undisclosed income of over Rs.58,000 crore in the last two and half years, and more is being pursued from tax havens where Indian holdings have come to light, all of this is akin to treating the symptoms without addressing the root cause.
If the Centre is serious about attacking India’s thriving black economy, it needs to be bold and, for starters, make electoral funding transparent, curb the misuse by the wealthy of tax-free income sops for farmers, and encourage cashless transactions.
Darknet, also known as dark web or darknet market, refers to the part of the internet that is not indexed or accessible through traditional search engines. It is a network of private and encrypted websites that cannot be accessed through regular web browsers and requires special software and configuration to access.
The darknet is often associated with illegal activities such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services, although not all sites on the darknet are illegal.
Examples of darknet markets include Silk Road, AlphaBay, and Dream Market, which were all shut down by law enforcement agencies in recent years.
These marketplaces operate similarly to e-commerce websites, with vendors selling various illegal goods and services, such as drugs, counterfeit documents, and hacking tools, and buyers paying with cryptocurrency for their purchases.
Anonymity: Darknet allows users to communicate and transact with each other anonymously. Users can maintain their privacy and avoid being tracked by law enforcement agencies or other entities.
Access to Information: The darknet provides access to information and resources that may be otherwise unavailable or censored on the regular internet. This can include political or sensitive information that is not allowed to be disseminated through other channels.
Freedom of Speech: The darknet can be a platform for free speech, as users are able to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship or retribution.
Secure Communication: Darknet sites are encrypted, which means that communication between users is secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties.
Illegal Activities: Many darknet sites are associated with illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services. Such activities can attract criminals and expose users to serious legal risks.
Scams: The darknet is a hotbed for scams, with many fake vendors and websites that aim to steal users’ personal information and cryptocurrency. The lack of regulation and oversight on the darknet means that users must be cautious when conducting transactions.
Security Risks: The use of the darknet can expose users to malware and other security risks, as many sites are not properly secured or monitored. Users may also be vulnerable to hacking or phishing attacks.
Stigma: The association of the darknet with illegal activities has created a stigma that may deter some users from using it for legitimate purposes.
AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as recognizing speech, making decisions, and understanding natural language.
Virtual assistants: Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are examples of virtual assistants that use natural language processing to understand and respond to users’ queries.
Recommendation systems: Companies like Netflix and Amazon use AI to recommend movies and products to their users based on their browsing and purchase history.
Efficiency: AI systems can work continuously without getting tired or making errors, which can save time and resources.
Personalization: AI can help provide personalized recommendations and experiences for users.
Automation: AI can automate repetitive and tedious tasks, freeing up time for humans to focus on more complex tasks.
Job loss: AI has the potential to automate jobs previously performed by humans, leading to job loss and economic disruption.
Bias: AI systems can be biased due to the data they are trained on, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes.
Safety and privacy concerns: AI systems can pose safety risks if they malfunction or are used maliciously, and can also raise privacy concerns if they collect and use personal data without consent.