Published On: Fri, Sep 6th, 2019

Tax assessment needs lot more transparency: Sitharaman

Kolkata: The tax assessment process requires a lot more transparency and has to be process-driven and not discretion-driven, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here on Friday, as she asked tax collectors not to overreach.

She stressed on the need for bringing greater technology assistance for the tax administrators

“If technology is used, it will be far more convenient to collect tax,” she said.

On tax collection target, the minister said that the target has been given after due consideration and any shortfall won’t affect social sector spending.

Amid rising demand from the auto sector for more relief measures including a rate cut, Sitharaman said that the proposal to cut tax rates would be discussed by the all-powerful GST Council.

“GST rate cuts are a call the GST Council has to take, it is not in my hands,” she said.

She said that one more round of measures to boost the economy would come. Further, the government was looking at the challenges faced by various sectors and a response was being formulated after engaging with them.

Speaking to reporters after an interaction with tax officials, the Finance Minister said while tax compliance has to be there, she conveyed the message that collectors should not overreach.

There was a need to stop the narrative that there probably are “some entrepreneurs who are also being troubled in the process of performing their duties and compliance.

“So the engagement with the tax administrators is aimed at conveying to them Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day message that wealth creators, job creators, entrepreneurs, business leaders have got to be facilitated.

“And only when economic activity is going to be flourishing, will there be gentle tax collection which is necessary for the country. It has to be ensured in the process of collecting taxes, businesses are facilitated to carry on with their core work,” she said.

Sitharaman said the meeting – the seventh in a series she has had with the tax administrators – also aimed at understanding the challenges faced by them.

In that context, she stressed on the need for bringing greater technology assistance for the tax administrators and make the process convenient for the assessees.

“It would be far more convenient and ease will be provided to the tax assessees if technology is used to collect data and use big data analytics which is today one of the domains in which India excels. It should be used much more than one-on-one personal interactions, which can run rough,” said the minister.

She reiterated that from the Vijaya Dashami Day tax assessment will be faceless, with the scrutiny process randomised. Thus the probability of any irksome harassing situation can be cut down.

She said from October 1 all notices issued by the tax authorities would have a particular Document Identification number. “Unless the number is there, the assessee is well within his right to treat that notice as not been issued at all.”

Asked whether the government had decided to sit with the tax authorities in view of the alleged suicide of Cafe Coffee Day founder V.G. Siddhartha, she described the incident as “unfortunate” but refused to comment any further.

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