New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday that work on a direct tax code has been completed and that the government will take it up as soon as a task force, which prepared the draft code, submits its report.

Speaking at Rajya Sabha in response to a discussion on the Finance Bill, Sitharaman said that in all likelihood the task force will be submitting its report by 31 July. The Finance Ministry had last month expanded the scope of the task force led by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) member Akhilesh Ranjan to include specific measures to cut down litigation and to facilitate quick disposal of appeals all the way from commissioners within the department to the Supreme Court.

The minister said the task force report, once submitted, will get government attention immediately. “Ultimately, whether direct or indirect taxation, we are interested in simplifying and reducing the burden on assessees. We want to reduce the burden, not just of tax, but also of compliance," said the minister.

The new tax code will adopt international best practices in taxation, simplify procedures and find ways to make taxation even more technology driven so that there is less physical interface between officials and taxpayers. It will also enable greater coordination and data sharing with the indirect tax administration to make both streams of taxation more robust against tax evasion.

On Tuesday, the Rajya Sabha passed the Union Budget— the Appropriation (No 2) Bill, 2019 and the Finance (No 2) Bill, 2019, which were passed by Lok Sabha last week.

In her reply to the debate on the two bills, Sitharaman justified raising tax on petrol and diesel by 2 per litre each saying inflation was at rock bottom and the move would not add any significant burden on prices, news agency PTI reported.

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