8 Income tax offices to open abroad

The government may soon be able to obtain classified financial data from tax havens and foreign shores as it plans to set up new overseas income tax offices in countries like the US, the UK and Cyprus to liaise with local tax authorities. The units will be manned by a senior I-T officer adept in handling tax evasion cases and international tax treaties and will help the department gather investments details of highprofile cases, which the I-T is investigating at present. The eight units will begin functioning in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Germany, France, Japan and the UAE in under two months. Two such units in Singapore and Mauritius are already operational since last year. The units will also help investors from abroad and help them understand Indian tax laws and procedures so that they can make informed decisions. A number of financial links in the department’s probes connects to these countries and the government has to take up a lot of documentation and travel by its officers. By having an office in such countries, the finance ministry expects to expedite the process. FM Pranab Mukherjee has recently approved the posting policy for the I-T officials for these centres. They will be appointed by Januaryend, sources said. The minister has also asked the CBDT to fast-track the process and operationalize the units quickly, they said. The I-T officers will be designated as first secretaries at the Indian mission or embassy at these foreign locations. The finance ministry has made it compulsory for these officers to have a stint in the foreign taxation wing of the CBDT, international taxation and transfer pricing unit of the I-T department and also at the investigation wing.

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