Building a bigger I-T base
Apropos the editorial “Taxing problem” (FE, February 20), the current number of income taxpayers in India, tentatively put at 6 crore by the revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, can’t be termed as an achievement by this government; more so when it is desperately trying to bring more and more people into the income tax net. It goes without saying that usual under-reporting of income has become a way of life for most people, owing to the fact that the government lacks the administrative machinery to get hold of most of them. As is well known, a plethora of escape routes are available to any taxpayers under various heads and sub-heads of the I-T Act. While India is largely inhabited by a vast majority of poor, the fact of the matter is that even those with well-established taxable income are seldom made to pay the actual amount of taxes due from them. Sadly, the government does not have any time and vision to effectively plug these loopholes. It is a different matter that it has repeatedly been emphasising the need to expand the existing tax base so as to spruce up the receipt of its vital source of revenue for it, but this has been followed without any visible ground-work. Needless to say, the more complicated and stringent the taxation law, the more the chances of its evasion. So, why not go in for a taxpayer-friendly regime that comprises of simple tax laws that may be quite easy to understand and follow as well but without any room for possible misuse thereof? Here comes the active role of the ultra-modern technology. Let an intensive survey be carried out to reasonably assess the income potentials (possible grey areas) across the country. Why can’t the so-collated income-related data of each household and known sharks be fed into the data base of CBDT and later updated on a real-time basis? The government must genuinely rationalise the current income tax structure which has become out-dated in the changed economic scenario. The govt should also think of getting rid of (or minimising) multiple tax exemptions only if it revisits the existing tax slabs vis-a-vis the respective income-tax rates. Let us get real without exception. Mind you, you can’t have the cake and eat it too.
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