Narendra Modi bats for electronic interface with taxpayers

NEW DELHI: In pure Narendra Modi style, he exhorted officers to shift to electronic interface when it comes to taxpayers in order to make sure that there is complete anonymity, which will also help avoid complaints of harassment or favouritism and shut out “vested interests”.

Talking in the yearly retreat of officers from the direct and indirect tax wings for the second straight year, Narendra Modi called for a conversion to a system where functionaries did not know whose returns they were assessing or scrutinising, while the individual or the company did not know who was the officer dealing with their case.

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Prime Minister compared this with the UPSC exams, where the aspirant does not know the examiner and the examiner does not know who the candidate is.

This statement of Narendra Modi has come at a time when he has been pushing a system where there is minimum human interface. Even at the time of investigations related to cash deposits during demonetisation, those who came under the scanner were asked to respond through the income tax website.

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In the last two years or so, notices have also begun coming via emails with replies to be posted through the same channel, dropping the earlier system where assessees were immediately asked to appear before a junior officer.

Modifications to the scrutiny routines have already been introduced and Modi’s latest statement is expected to speed up the change in process. This is the second time that Modi has asked for an overhaul in the way the department works.

While the PM has been happy with the GST rollout, expanding the base was highlighted by him. “The PM said that in order to enable all traders to take the maximum benefit of GST, we should work towards ensuring that all traders, including even relatively smaller traders with a turnover below Rs 20 lakh, should register with the GST system.

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He asked the officers to make efforts in this regard by designing a system for this category,” an official release said. Some 17 lakh new entities have registered for GST, which has helped expand the base.