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New Delhi, August 13, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the ongoing reforms were aimed at making the tax system "seamless, painless and faceless" and urged people to introspect and pay taxes due from them to help build an "AtmaNirbhar Bharat" (self-reliant India).
Launching a platform for "Transparent Taxation - Honouring the Honest" via video-conferencing here, Modi said the "seamless" system would work to resolve the problems of a taxpayer instead of entangling him further.
By being "painless", he said it meant that everything from technology to rules should be simple.
Referring to the "faceless" system, he said there was no need for a direct contact between the taxpayer and the Income Tax Officer in all matters of scrutiny, notice, survey or assessment.
Modi said the process of structural reforms in the country had reached new heights today. He said the platform launched today was in keeping with the requirements of the 21st century taxation system.
He said the platform had major reforms like Faceless Assessment, Faceless Appeal and Taxpayers Charter.
He said that Faceless Assessment and Taxpayers Charter have come into force from today while the facility of faceless appeal will be available for citizens across the country from September 25, which is also Deen Dayal Upadhyay's birth anniversary. The new platform, apart from being faceless, is also aimed at boosting the confidence of the taxpayer and making him or her fearless, he said.
The Prime Minister said the focus of the Government, in the last six years had been on “Banking the Unbanked, Securing the Unsecured and Funding the Unfunded” and that the platform of “Honouring the Honest” is in the same direction.
He praised the role of honest taxpayers in nation-building and said that making the lives of such taxpayers easy is the responsibility of the government.
“When the life of an honest taxpayer of the country becomes easy, he moves forward and develops, then the country also develops and leaps forward,” he added.
Modi said the new facilities launched today are a part of the Government’s resolve to provide "maximum governance with minimum government". He said that every rule, law and policy is made with an emphasis on it being people centric, public friendly rather than power centric. He said that the use of the new governance model is yielding good results.
The Prime Minister said that an atmosphere is being created where primacy is being given to duty to execute all works. This is the result not because of force and fear of punishment but because of an understanding of the holistic approach that is being adopted. He said the reforms being launched by the Government are not in piecemeal but those aimed at delivering results with holistic perspective.
The Prime Minister said the country’s tax structure needed fundamental reforms as the earlier tax structure was developed from the one created during pre-independence times. Even the several changes made during the post-independence times did not alter its fundamental character, he said.
He said that the complexity of the earlier system made it difficult to conform. He said that simplified laws and procedures make it easy to comply. One such example is the Goods and Service Tax (GST), he said, which replaced dozens of taxes.
Modi said that the latest laws reduced the legal burden in the tax system where now the limit of filing cases in the High Court has been fixed at up to Rs 1 crore and up to Rs 2 crore for filing in the Supreme Court. Initiatives like the "Vivaad Se Vishwas" scheme pave the way for most of the cases to be settled out of court, he said.
He said the tax slabs had also been rationalised as a part of the ongoing reforms where there is zero tax upto an income of Rs 5 lakh, while the tax rate has reduced in the remaining slabs too. He said India is one of the countries with the lowest corporate taxes in the world.
Referring to the launch of Taxpayers Charter, the Prime Minister said that it is a significant step where the taxpayer is now assured of fair, courteous and rational behavior. He said the charter takes care of maintaining the dignity and sensitivity of the taxpayer and that is based on a trust factor and that the assessee cannot be merely doubted without a basis.
Referring to the reduction of the scrutiny of the cases by at least four times in the last six years from 0.94% in 2012-13 to 0.26% in 2018-19, he said this itself is a reflection of the trust that the Government is laying on the returnees. He said in the last six years, India has seen a new model of governance evolving in tax administration. Amidst all these efforts, he said the number of people filing income tax returns has increased by about 2.5 crore in the last 6-7 years.
The Prime Minister, however, said that it can also not be denied that only 1.5 crore people pay taxes in a country of 130 crore. He urged people to introspect themselves and come forward to pay the taxes due. This would help in the making of a self-reliant India or AtmaNirbhar Bharat, he added.