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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday rolled out a programme for honouring honest tax payers and for making tax collection more transparent, which he said, will make taxation fairer and tax payers fearless.

The programme, which involves faceless assessment, faceless appeal and a tax payer charter seeks to improve tax payer experience and ease of doing business.

Modi said that faceless assessment and the tax payer charter have come into force from Thursday, while faceless appeals will be available from 25 September, the birth anniversary of Deendayal Upadhyaya, a leader associated with the forerunner of Bharatiya Janata Party, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Modi dedicated the programme to the nation through video conference facility.

“The tax system is becoming faceless. Tax payer will get the feeling of fairness and fearlessness," Modi said.

“In the past six years, our focus has been on banking the unbanked, securing the unsecured and funding the unfunded. Today, in a way, we are starting a new journey—honouring the honest," Modi said, adding that honest tax payers play a big role in nation building.

“When their life becomes easier and goes forward, the nation also develops and goes forward. It also strengthens our commitment to minimum government, maximum governance," Modi said.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was present on the occasion said that to realise Modi’s vision to empower tax payers and to provide a transparent system, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has put in place a platform. “It uses, data analytics and artificial intelligence. What it means for tax payers is that it eases compliance burden and brings in a fair and just system," Sitharaman said.

The drive to honour honest tax payers comes after a series of steps in recent months aimed at making the administration more accountable for its dealings with tax payers, reduce tax litigation and for making compliance easy.

Modi’s government had in 2019 offered businesses the option of a lower corporate tax rate to those not availing of any incentives and to new manufacturers. Earlier this year, it also rationalised personal income tax rates to make the slabs more progressive so that tax payers’ transition from lower slab to higher one is more smooth.

Modi had in the past acknowledged the role played by tax payers on several occasions even as he tried to make tax administration and delivery of benefits more transparent with the idea that tax payers can feel the gratification of having contributed to meeting the needs of the poor.

He had referred to the contribution of honest tax payers in his victory speech last year and again in June this year when he thanked tax payers for helping to finance the humanitarian measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the Modi administration’s approach to taxation will be based on trust and respect to the tax payer and that schemes rolled out with this philosophy will be scaled up.

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