The Income Tax Department should pull up its socks to “maximise” revenue collection and enlarge the basket of tax-paying people in the country, the newly-appointed chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said in his first communication to officials. PC Mody has asked the taxman to make special efforts in redressing the grievances and the issues faced by “small taxpayers”, and work with greater transparency and accountability.
The central government had earlier this month appointed Mr Mody as the chairman of CBDT. He took charge of the policy-making body of the Income Tax Department on February 15. He succeeded Sushil Chandra who was appointed election commissioner.
“Our immediate priority will be maximising revenue collection. We need to widen and deepen the tax base, ensuring simultaneously, the optimum utilisation of physical as well as human resources,” Mr Mody said in an official letter to the regional chiefs of the tax department across the country.
In the the February 26 letter, accessed by news agency Press Trust of India, he adds that the exercise to enlarge the tax base in the country “must be done without any harassment or high handedness on the part of officers or officials”.
The Income Tax Department has been given a target in the Union Budget to collect Rs. 11.5 lakh crore in revenue under the direct taxes category for the 2018-19 financial year.
Officials in the CBDT told the agency that they expect to exceed the target even as just over a month’s time is left for the current fiscal year to close.
The tax payers (direct taxes) base in the country is over six crore at present and the Union government has time and again directed the department to enhance this basket so that more people pay legitimate taxes on their income.
Mr Mody had a special word for the taxman to be impartial and fair in their work.
“Our conduct must be impeccable, friendly, yet objective – without fear or favour – as we move towards becoming a non-adversarial regime,” he said.
He said the “timely delivery of quality taxpayer services shall be another prime area of focus (for the department)”.
“Continuous and concerted efforts must be made to address and redress all public grievances within the prescribed time limit.”
“Systemic reforms shall continue to be undertaken, especially to redress grievances of smaller taxpayers, such as increased automation of processes, e-filing, centralised processing of tax returns, and other bulk operations” he added.
The CBDT had earlier announced that it was moving towards a system where income tax assessment of an assessee would become completely nameless and faceless in the next about two years, and a taxpayer will not have to face an assessing officer for most of his works.
The new CBDT chief said expediting dispute resolution, taxpayers” education about subjects of tax compliance and litigation management shall also be “areas of focus and concern” for the taxman in the days to come.
“We shall continue to strive towards greater transparency, accountability and improved voluntary compliance as we roll out a digital administration,” he said.
Mr Mody, who will be in office till June this year, also had a word for his personnel and staff in the letter.
“The board (CBDT) shall also make all efforts for ensuring timely provision of service needs of its officials, with an aim to improve their efficiency, output, and morale.”
“We shall try our best to harmonise the organisational goals with the needs of every employee, so that they are able to rise to the challenges of effective tax-administration with increased exposure and up-gradation.”
The CBDT chief said he shared the vision of “in dreams, begin responsibilities” with his officials and that it would be his aim to improve the image of the Income Tax Department and “contribute towards nation building”.
“The efforts of our predecessors have ensured, that the department has only risen in stature and with your support, I hope to continue to meet the aspirations of not only the public and taxpayers but also our own employees,” Mr Mody said.
He will also hold his maiden pan-India meeting with his officers via video conference on Thursday, along with other members and officer of the CBDT.