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PM announces faceless assessment, taxpayers’ charter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File photo)   | Photo Credit: PTI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched a “Transparent Taxation -- Honouring the Honest” platform that provides faceless assessment and faceless appeal and a taxpayers’ charter. He appealed to those not paying taxes despite the capability to come forward and commit themselves to the cause of making the country self-reliant.

While the faceless assessment and taxpayers’ charter came into force on Thursday itself, the faceless appeal system will be available from September 25, birth anniversary of Deendayal Upadhyaya.

The assessment system seeks to eliminate corrupt practices by doing away with the territorial jurisdiction of income-tax offices. With the help of technology, the cases of scrutiny will now be allocated randomly to any official in any part of the country. The document identification numbers will be issued from the central database.

Review of orders will also be done by another team at some other place, chosen randomly using data analytics and artificial intelligence.

From now on, officials in the Directorate General of Income Tax (Investigation) and the Principal Commissioner of I-T/Chief Commissioner of I-T (TDS) will be the only competent authorities for approving survey actions to gather information for scrutiny and assessment.

The Prime Minister said that in the new system, the department would escape unnecessary litigation and the officials would get reprieve from the energy otherwise spent on transfers and postings.

The platform would instil a sense of fairness and fearlessness in the taxpayers. “In the past six years, our focus has been banking the unbanked, securing the unsecured and funding the unfunded. From today, we have embarked on a new journey: honouring the honest,” he said.

For seamless system

The new facilities were in consonance with, and further strengthened, the government's motto of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’, he noted. The effort was to make the tax system seamless, painless and faceless.

On the taxpayers’ charter, Mr. Modi said it was also a vital step in the country’s development, in terms of bringing about a balance between the responsibilities and the taxpayers’ duties and also fixing the government’s responsibilities.

Although the taxpayer base had expanded by 2.5 crore in the past six-seven years, it was a matter of grave concern that only about 1.5 crore people were paying income-tax in a country of over 130-crore population. “Self-introspection is necessary for a self-reliant India,” he said.

The government had adopted people-centric approach towards making laws, rules and policies. “This an experiment of the New India’s new governance model, and the country is getting positive results. Everyone has now realised that shortcuts are not acceptable, and it is not wise to adopt wrong means,” he said, pointing out that sense of duty was now the most appreciated approach.

The change had come about due to four reasons - narrowing the grey areas of discretion; having faith in the general public; limiting human interface in the system of governance by use of technology; and awarding efficiency, integrity and sensitivity in the bureaucracy. He described them as policy-driven governance.

Holistic reforms

The government’s approach was proactive introduction of policy-based holistic reforms, which would become the basis of further reforms. Owing to continuous reforms, on the ease-of-doing-business front, India’s ranking had improved from 134th to 63rd position.

The commitment towards reforms had also instilled confidence in foreign investors and this was the reason why, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the country received record FDI.

In the previous system, income-tax notices had become an instrument for harassing taxpayers. It could not help expand the taxpayer base and rather created conditions for the business of “black and white” [money] to flourish, Mr. Modi said.

The new income-tax slab system did not need unnecessary documents. Earlier, the government would take the disputes involving over ₹10 lakh to courts. However, the limit had now been fixed to ₹1 crore in the High Court and ₹2 crore in the Supreme Court. Schemes such as ‘Vivad Se Vishwas’ have helped in dispute settlements. More than three lakh cases had been resolved out of court.

Mr. Modi said income tax had also been reduced. “We are among the countries with the least corporate tax,” he added.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2020 3:28:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pm-says-faceless-assessment-faceless-appeal-and-taxpayer-charter-part-of-new-platform/article32342005.ece

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