Home / Economy / Nirmala Sitharaman sets out three principles for income tax officials

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday urged the income tax department to assess tax returns and process tax refunds even faster and redress pending grievances of assessees as she set a new three-point governing principle for the tax department.

The minister acknowledged that with use of technology, tax returns are now assessed and refunds are issued quickly but further improvements in this will fetch more goodwill to the department. The minister also told officials to resolve pending grievances.

“We are going to basics in some ways. I think there are three ‘Rs’ that are going to govern us…," the minister said at an event organised to give the finance minister’s award in recognition of exceptional and significant contribution of officers.

The first R, she said, was about assessing and processing the tax returns in time quickly, efficiently and systematically. “Don’t lose time on that because the assessees feel, ‘I am waiting for it why don’t you process my return soon?’ The second R would be speedy refund. You are doing very well, much better than what it was before. Even more attention will have to be given to very quickly disposing of the refunds. There should not be any excuse for holding back refunds," the minister said.

Even more efficient way of processing refunds will have a lot more good will for the department, Sitharaman said.

“Finally the third R is redressal of grievance. Even today, there are some cases which are pending for ever. There may be complications. It may be cases riddled with too many ifs and buts. You are the final authority. Why would you not want to redress them in time or let know that this is going to take a lot of time or if it is not is not within your powers or it is not possible to untie all those knots and get relief," the minister said. Sitharaman suggested that if grievance redressal was possible, officials should deliver on it and where the issue involved greater participation from others or needed to go to courts, that should be done. But, it should not languish on officers’ tables, the minister said.

The minister also said that direct tax revenue collections have now matched indirect tax receipts, indicating equity in tax receipts.

Sitharaman said direct tax collection is sustaining the momentum. There was a time in 2020 and early 2021, when observers pointed out indirect taxes were contributing a lot more than direct taxes, and questions of equity was raised, the minister said. That was only for a few months and and today direct tax revenue is probably at par or even better than indirect tax revenue collection, the minister said.

Earlier in the day, Sitharaman reviewed the measures taken by public sector banks in giving credit to persons belonging to the Scheduled Caste community and their welfare in terms of reservation, backlog vacancies, functioning of welfare and grievances redressal mechanism.

During the meeting, Sitharaman urged banks to fill the small number of remaining backlog vacancies in a time bound manner. Banks were also urged to enhance the coverage of scheduled casts in all schemes. The minister advised bank heads to also look into their needs for capacity building, entrepreneurship development as scheduled casts constitute about 18% of the total workforce of the banks and financial institutions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gireesh Chandra Prasad

Gireesh has over 22 years of experience in business journalism covering diverse aspects of the economy, including finance, taxation, energy, aviation, corporate and bankruptcy laws, accounting and auditing.
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