Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday praised income tax officials for achieving a nine percent growth in direct tax collections in the previous year when the economy was recovering from a slowdown and said they have a responsibility to recover every Rupee that is due to the government.
“It goes to the credit of the Direct Tax department that even when the economy was recovering from a slowdown phase last year; when many did not expect the tax collections to rise significantly, the direct tax collections did rise by more than nine percent, which brought us very close to the revised targets itself. This year, with increased buoyancy and improved GDP growth rates, we expect a growth of around 14 to 15 percent, and that seems reasonably plausible. It is only with that, that the increased expenditure of the government can be met,” Jaitley said during his address at the 31st Annual Conference of Principal Chief Commissioners of Income Tax.
“You have the responsibility to recover every rupee which is due to the government…A tax is either payable or not payable, if it is not payable, then no attempt has to be made to recover it, but if it is payable, then there is no scope for any collateral consideration why it must not be recovered for the government,” he added.
Further highlighting the key tasks of the tax department, he said that officials have to maintain high standards of ethics and integrity.
“The base has to increase, the evasion has to be checked, the parallel economy has to be squeezed and all this has to be done in a fair manner…You have to ensure that the entire chain of officials
maintain high standards of ethics and integrity,” he said.
He said that the Central Government has taken several initiatives towards tax reforms in the last one year.
“In indirect taxes, the process of introduction of GST is on, a lot of work has been done and a lot of work remains to be done, and we have only two months remaining to accomplish that task… In direct taxes, as far as corporate tax is concerned, our effort over the next four years is to bring down the taxes to global levels and phase out the exemptions,” he said.
“As far as individual tax payers are concerned, while expanding the base, bringing within the scope the non filers who should have become filers,” he added.
The two-day annual conference is being attended by Principal Chief Commissioners of Income Tax, Principal Director Generals and senior officials Income Tax Department.
The thrust areas of the Conference will be non-adversarial tax regime, expeditious settlement of tax payers’ grievances and significant expansion of tax base. The participants will also deliberate on matters pertaining to income tax investigations and issues relating to human resource development among others.