Cancer of Tax Evasion
Tax evaders have no right to seek pardon as such acts create huge ‘inequality of wealth’ in the society. This act denies the downtrodden a chance to come forward and to catch up with the rest of the society. The offenders should be given exemplary punishment according to the law of the land. The recent revelation made by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) shows that tax evaders are present all over the world including India. While the fate of the King of Jordan or the close associates of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will be decided by their respective countries, the Government of India should not show any kind of leniency to those Indians, who will be officially named by the ICIJ. So far, the name of one cricketing icon of the country is in the circulation for making investments through offshore accounts to evade tax; speculations are going on about other names expected to be in the list. It is heartening to note that after the revelations were made, the Government of India has ordered a multi-agency enquiry to probe into the allegations without any delay. Hope the agencies will be able to dig out the truth at the earliest.
In its recent study Oxfam International has brought into the open how tax evasion is disturbing the socio-economic balance of the world. The British Consortium of Charities claimed that one thousand richest people of the world had recovered the loss that they suffered due to Covid-19 pandemic in just nine months, while for the poor it will take years to break-even. The Indian scenario is no different. According to the recent reports, the Indian billionaires have increased their wealth by 35 percent during the same period. It shows that the stimulus provided by the government to ease the burden of pandemic didn’t yield desired results. Funds meant to help the commoners went to the pockets of rich businessmen. Even the sops like tax reduction have been used to erase the deficit, though it was expected that the excess money would be invested in a new venture, which could provide employment opportunities to many.
This is the second bombshell that ICIJ has dropped by releasing Pandora Papers after the Panama Papers five years ago. These papers provide documentary evidence about the investments made by influential people hiding their real income. Shielding their income, these people have invested in mansions, breathtaking beachfront properties among others. It is estimated that trillions of dollars have been invested in various lucrative properties all over the world. When the Panama Papers were published, the biggest casualty was the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He had to resign from his post after his name figured prominently in the list and it is expected that this time it will not be much different. But the removal of one or two influential persons will not be enough to prevent tax evasion. If the world is really interested in removing the inequality of wealth, the country’s economic offence prevention wings should be strengthened, so that no one dares to think about tax evasion.