Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the government is taking baby steps towards creating a simplified taxation structure that will also ensure that assessees are not harassed. Sitharaman also said the government is striving for an exemption-free tax regime.

“We want to ensure that the entire tax structure is simplified. We want to remove the ifs and buts in the taxation structure in the long run," the minister said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, 2019.

Sitharaman appealed to tax assessees to approach her office or the revenue secretary’s office in the finance ministry when facing harassment at the hands of tax officials.

“We have asked tax collection officers to not strain and put pressure on the assessees even if tax collection targets are not met," the minister said on the second day of the two-day leadership summit.

According to a PTI report, the Centre, as of middle of November, had mopped up 6 lakh crore in direct taxes which is less than 50% of the direct tax collection target of 13.35 lakh crore for the current fiscal.

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Collections under the goods and services tax (GST) have also been largely weak, falling short of target, amid an economic slowdown.

In a relief of sorts, GST collections in November rose 6% year-on-year to 1.03 lakh crore, after falling for two straight months in September and October.

This was only the eighth time since the rollout of GST in July 2017, that monthly collection crossed the Rs1 trillion mark. GST collections in November were the third highest monthly collection since the rollout, next only to April 2019 and March 2019 collections.

The jump in GST collection in November was attributed to festival demand and anti-evasion measures such as restricting the use of tax credits where the seller failed to upload invoice.

Sitharaman today also said the Centre will soon have a streamlined GST regime for all assessees.

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