In his 15 August speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to reassure honest taxpayers that they shall not be treated with suspicion. To uphold that promise, steps are already being taken. Come 1 October, manual notices sent by the income tax department will be a thing of the past. The Central Board of Direct Taxes has barred all such communication. All missives thereon will have to carry a Document Identification Number, the authenticity of which taxpayers would be able to verify on the department’s website.

This should help stop the unfair targeting of taxpayers by creating a communication trail that can be used to hold officials accountable. Harassment at the hands of taxmen is commonplace, with taxpayers often served notices that instil fear. Tax authorities had earlier made much of the assessment process an online affair so that neither the assessing officer nor the taxpayer is aware of the other’s identity. Faceless interaction was the idea. But fears have persisted. Numerous voices of concern have arisen, especially in recent times. Let’s hope Modi’s message acts as a restraint on any abuse of our country’s tax laws.

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