New Revenue Secretary vows on transparency

By: | Published: September 1, 2015 7:43 PM

Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Monday urged taxpayers and whistle blowers to write to him personally about issues such as reform suggestions...

Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Monday urged taxpayers and whistle blowers to write to him personally about issues such as reform suggestions, instances of harassment and simplification of rules needed and promised that all decisions regarding taxation would be just and fair including those relating to foreign portfolio investors (FPIs).

Adhia, who moved to the Revenue Department from the Financial Services Department where he was secretary after the reshuffle of top bureaucrats on Friday, said he would soon review the preparedness of all states to roll out Goods and Service Tax (GST).

The new Revenue Secretary said increasing transparency in tax administration with the use of information technology was a priority.

“What I hear from various sections of society and taxpayers is that we have got some of the complicated laws and on top of it, a lot of rules and notifications which really make taxation difficult to understand. Simplification of rules and procedures and transparency through use of technology, will be the topmost item getting my attention in the next few months,” said Adhia.

Adhia indicated the government would be just and fair when it takes a call on the 18.5% Minimum Alternate Tax demand raised by the tax department on the trading income of FPIs. The ministry is contemplating to give reprieve to FPIs as suggested by an expert panel.

The Justice AP Shah panel had recommended that there was no basis to apply MAT on FPIs as this levy was introduced as a tax anti-avoidance measure on resident companies that keep their tax liability low on account of various tax breaks. So far, the tax department has raised demands in 68 cases, taking the total demand to Rs 602.8 crore for the period prior to April 1, 2015. From this financial year onwards, assets of FPIs in India are treated as capital assets and their profits as capital gains, not as business income on which MAT can be claimed.

“I can assure everybody that even whistle blowers can feel free to write to me. Nobody else will open those mails,” said the secretary. He also said any malpractice by officials can also be brought to his attention in this way. “I don’t think there is any tax terror kind of a thing. Every department will have good and bad elements,” he said, adding that he would identify those in the department because of whom it had got a bad name.

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