Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent the chilling warning to all unscrupulous tax officials who harass honest taxpayers with a view to extorting money from them that their shenanigans will no longer be tolerated but they will instead be summarily sacked from service.
Black Sheep in Dept have misused powers – they will not be tolerated anymore
“It is a fact that some black sheep in the tax administration may have misused their powers and harassed taxpayers, either by targeting honest assesses or by taking excessive action for minor or procedural violations,” the Hon’ble Prime Minister noted, acknowledging the fact that the tax department is in fact a den of corruption.
“We have recently taken the bold step of compulsorily retiring a significant number of tax officials, and we will not tolerate this type of behaviour,” the Hon’ble Prime Minister declared.
Spoke to @EconomicTimes on a wide range of issues relating to the economy. Elaborated on the vision of making India a US $ 5 trillion economy, plans to attract investment, boost exports & a message for the private sector. Do read! https://t.co/AOwOhCg6Mc
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 12, 2019
“…black sheep in tax administration…misused…powers…harassed taxpayers…honest assesses…taking excessive action for minor…violations…have…taken…step…compulsorily retiring…number of tax officials…will not tolerate this type of behaviour.”@narendramodi
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) August 12, 2019
Finance Minister also assured onset of corruption free tax administration
It may be recalled that even Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, the Hon’ble Finance Minister, had recently bemoaned the extent of corruption in the Department.
She produced shocking statistics which show that in the year 2018 itself, 1441 complaints were received by the CBDT from hapless taxpayers against the officials of the Department.
She assured Parliament that the government has taken a gamut of steps to comprehensively ensure corruption free tax administration in the country which includes preventive vigilance, systemic and administrative reforms, streamlining process to reduce employee trade interface and robust preventive vigilance mechanism.
She also stated that in order to have a corruption free tax administration, all-out effort is being made by taking regular action in the areas of Punitive, Preventive and Participative vigilance.
Don’t subject taxpayers who commit minor or procedural violations to disproportionate action
The Hon’ble Prime Minister also stated that he has instructed the revenue secretary to come up with measures to ensure that honest taxpayers are not harassed and those who commit minor or procedural violations are not subjected to disproportionate or excessive action.
CBDT to now have Member (Taxpayer Services)
The Hon’ble Prime Minister also revealed that the CBIC and CBDT will now appoint a very senior officer to the post of Member (Taxpayer Services).
The official will be responsible for improving taxpayer services and will keep a watch on grievance redressal.
CBDT Chief also lamented “Lackadaisical Attitude” of Dept
Even Hon’ble PC Mody, the Chairman of the CBDT, is fed up with the Devil-may-care attitude of the Department.
He recently addressed a missive in which he took a stern view and slammed the Department for its “lackadaisical attitude” towards resolving taxpayers’ grievances.
“Inspite of all these efforts by the Board it is seen that the total number of pending grievances on CPGRAMS as on 20.06.20 19 is 2647 out of which 885 grievances are pending for more than 30 days. Likewise 34026 cases of e-Nivaran are still pending for resolution. These figures are a cause of serious concern and point to a lackadaisical attitude in the effective redressal of the grievance by the concerned authority,” the Ld. Chairman observed.
“It is important for safeguarding the right s and dignity of the taxpayer on one hand while enforcing higher standards of accountability on officers and staff at the other,” he reminded the officials.
Threat of dismissal is not an empty threat
Officials should remember that the threat of dismissal from service for corruption/ extortion is not an empty one.
Recently, 12 senior officers of ranks of Chief Commissioner, Principal Commissioners & Commissioner of Income Tax Dept compulsorily retired under Rule 56 by the Finance Ministry.
Big step by Govt. 12 senior officers of ranks of Chief Commissioner, Principal Commissioners & Commissioner of Income Tax Dept compulsorily retired under Rule 56 by the Finance Ministry. All had serious allegations against them. Strong message by PM @narendramodi to bureaucracy. pic.twitter.com/xMKJUIJR3d
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) June 10, 2019
Justice. Victory. After 13 long years, a battle me and my wife fought against SK Srivastava . He has now been sacked by @PMOIndia @FinMinIndia . All the filth and falsehood raised by this man now smashed. https://t.co/9MoJZ0AdUY https://t.co/9MoJZ0iCwo
— Abhisar Sharma (@abhisar_sharma) June 10, 2019
In addition, four Joint Commissioners of Income-tax have been “demoted” to the post of Deputy Commissioner as they are facing investigation for disciplinary & vigilance cases.
Monetary limits for filing of appeals by Dept increased significantly
The Hon’ble Prime Minister also stated that in order to reduce litigation and to effectively reduce taxpayer grievances and litigation, the monetary limits for filing of appeals by the tax authorities have been increased significantly.
He pointed out that the limit used to be Rs 25 lakh for appeal in Supreme Court, Rs 20 lakh for High Courts and Rs 10 lakh for income tax appellate tribunals.
In the last one year, these limits with respect to income tax cases have been increased to Rs 2 crore for SC, Rs 1 crore for HCs and Rs 50 lakh for appellate tribunals.
|S.No.||Appeals/SLPs in Income-tax matters||Monetary Limit (Rs.)|
|1||Before Appellate Tribunal||50.00.000|
|2||Before High Court||1.00.00.000|
|3||Before Supreme Court||2.00.00.000|
He pointed out that this will reduce pendency in higher courts and will allow departments to concentrate on litigation involving complex legal issues and high tax effect.
Tax evaders will suffer
The Ld. Prime Minister also reminded taxpayers that they should pay their taxes honestly or be prepared to face the wrath of the law.
“For tax evaders, we gave an amnesty scheme before demonetisation. Those who failed to use it may have suffered,” he pointed out.
He also stated that for the vast majority of income-tax payers, considerable progress has been made — today refunds are credited to bank accounts automatically within weeks without any need for the taxpayer to go and pursue it with the officer.
This has benefited literally crores of people and many have appreciated this, he said.
He also pointed out that the concept of “faceless assessment of income-tax return” will eliminate human interface to a large extent.
“If we look at the number of searches in one year, it is not even 1,000. During 2017-18, number of groups where search operation took place was 582, and in 2018-19 it was 980. When you see this number in the context of total number of tax payers, it will not be even 0.02%. So you can understand how scarce these actions are“, he stated, implying that the Government is playing fair with the taxpayers in anticipation that the same will be reciprocated by the taxpayers.