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Tax affairs of Indian lawyers expected to come under spotlight

By Neasa MacErlean

05 March 2015 at 06:12 BST

Lawyers are likely to be paying more attention to tax issues this year - either in advising an estimated 1,200 wealthy Indians with secret HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland or in answering suspicions that they themselves are under-declaring.

The fall-out from the Swiss tax HSBC debacle is soon to be felt by lawyers Fedor Selivanov

Lawyers and doctors are among the self-employed professionals who are 'widely believed to underreport incomes to avoid services taxes, which were raised from 12 per cent to 14 per cent in the budget', according to the Financial Times. They are seen as a target for government clean-up operations - alongside the wealthy Indians who are estimated to have held US$5.6b in HSBC accounts, according to records revealed about account-holders in the bank in 2005/06. 

Legal ability

The new government of Narendra Modi has published proposals to punish people who hide assets illegally offshore with sentences of up to ten years in jail. However, experts are sceptical that the Indian authorities will be able to follow through and find undeclared of hidden assets. Jahangir Aziz, chief economist at JP Morgan, said: 'The problem now is not that the punishment levels are too low. It is that we do not have the legal ability to go and identify unaccounted money.' Sources: Financial Times and Indian Express


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