The New Income-tax Code – Panacea for old evils?

We are still waiting with bated breath for the new Income-tax Code which was supposed to be released by December 2007. The Finance Minister P Chidambaram has said that the Code is an exercise of the future and is not aimed at amending the existing Income Tax Act 1961. “This report is about a brand new Income Tax Act, which if all goes well, will come into force from Apr 1, 2008, that is assessments made for 2009-10,” he said. He added that the new Act would hopefully come into force from April 2008 subject to Parliament approving it “well in time”.

This time-table may have to be delayed because it was announced today that a “white paper” would first be released and the Code would be introduced in Parliament only after all the loose ends were ironed out.

Meanwhile, the AIFTP has released its’ six-point wish list for the new Income-tax Code which balances healthy pragmatism with a dash of idealism.

1. Accountability and transparency in tax administration

2. Transparency in appointment of members of settlement commission and the board

3. Advance ruling for taxation – scope may be extended

4. Legal cell of tax department at board level and zonal level

(a) Separate legal cell of Tax Department.
(b) Technique of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal may be adopted.
(c) Co ordinations with the panel of lawyers and commissioners.
(d) Research team to monitor the tax matters before various High Courts.

5. Appeal against orders of commissioners may be made appealable to tribunal

6. Representation of aiftp at the board level.

You can read more about these suggestions here.

One hopes that the Government will treat these suggestions – made by professionals with decades of experience in practising the law – with the respect that it deserves.

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