Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched a 'transparent taxation' platform, among other schemes, aimed at carrying forward the journey of direct tax reforms.
The move brings into effect faceless assessment of taxpayers, faceless appeals and the Rights' Charter for taxpayers who would not be harassed or treated with suspicion from here on.
Speaking at the launch of 'Transparent Taxation Honouring the Honest', Modi said that India is among a few countries giving such rights and dignity to taxpayers. He said that the charter has been introduced with defined rights and responsibilities. From here on, the income tax department cannot doubt anyone without basis, he added.
Modi believes the structural reforms will add a new dimension, adding that these should be policy-driven and holistic. He cited that technology has changed, allowing for the scrutiny process to be distributed randomly. Furthermore, he said that the tax scrutiny rate was reduced by a fourth in the last few years; in the fiscal year, there was only 0.26 per cent scrutiny.
Speaking of the recent measures, he said that nearly 300,000 cases were resolved under the Vivaad Se Vishwas scheme. He also appealed to citizens, saying that those who are capable of paying taxes but not in the tax net should also voluntarily pay dues.
Even though the new 'taxpayer's charter' is aimed at residents, non-resident Indians (NRIs) also will benefit from this proposal. India now joins countries like the United States and Canada, which have fundamental rights enacted under their income tax laws.
"Many NRIs face problems due to the arbitrary nature in which some income tax officers behave; the new system will prevent this harassment. Nonetheless, the new system does have some drawbacks. For example, if there are complex international financial transactions, it might be challenging for the taxpayer to explain the transaction in the absence of face-to-face interaction. Only a qualified tax officer will be able to make a well-informed decision and hopefully, the entire department will be trained on these aspects. For the NRI, from an overall perspective, the new system is certainly a step forward."
Dixit Jain, managing director at The Tax Experts DMCC, said: "A lot of transparency will come as there will be faceless interaction with assessees, which will reduce harassment and fair judgement without any manipulation. It will increase confidence; also, more and more people will file tax returns to contribute to the country."
Jain added that earlier, a lot of NRIs were afraid to file tax returns as they used to think that if they file, they will get notices from the income tax department and will then have to face unnecessary trouble while dealing with officers.
"The introduction of the ' No Influence' policy and no face-to-face interaction will encourage NRIs to happily declare their eligible income and pay taxes or claim refunds without any worry. It is a brilliant move by the Modi government to encourage more people to file tax returns so it can contribute to the Indian economy."
The launch of theTransparent taxation- honouring the honest based on easing compliance for all taxpayers, more specifically for NRI's - and is a welcome initiative. Few reforms were already in practice with most of the notice and assessments being conducted under e-proceedings, says Dubai-based Kinjal Bagadia Mehta, chartered accountant and tax consultant.
This initiative will lead to the digitisation of the functioning of the income Taxdepartmentwhich will eventually eradicate corruption, harassment of the taxpayers and reducing litigation. At present, only the tax department/officer of the city where the PANof the taxpayer is registered can scrutinise the tax records. By the launch of the Transparent taxation system, this will change now and with technology, scrutiny will be assigned to tax officers randomly. This will keep changing constantly.
"The idea of honouring honest taxpayers through such a platform will encourage many NRIs to participate in the development and growth of India. This will also go a long way in making the tax filing process smoother and easier. An NRI will now be assured of fair, courteous, and rational behaviour from the taxman. This people-centric and public friendly approach will ease being tax compliant in India ultimately giving confidence to NRIs to file the tax returns, pay tax and also invest in India," said Mehta.