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I-T department asks traders to pay advance tax rather than annual returns
October, 12th 2015

As part of its latest drive to widen the tax base, the Income Tax department has asked traders and businessmen to pay advance tax rather than file annual returns at the end of the financial year so they can be added as new assesses promptly.

The department is running an ambitious drive to bring under its net one crore new taxpayers after the government recently asked the taxman to achieve the target within the current fiscal.

In the national capital, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has tasked the taxman to add 5.32 lakh new assesses within this time frame. The CBDT is the apex policy-making body of the Income Tax department.

As part of this initiative, the department is now holding public sessions called 'Seedha Samvad' (direct communication) with industry and trade bodies in public places across the country, including in Delhi.

One such session was held here this week in the popular Kamla market area near Delhi University, with the North Delhi Traders Federation (NDTF).

"We have done a PAN mapping of the business area here and it is a matter of concern that tax returns have decreased as compared to the last financial years. There can be many reasons for it and we are not doubting the intentions of the taxpayers. But as part of the government's initiative to widen the tax base we would like to request you that you should pay advance tax on time and this way we will be able to consider you as our new assesses immediately.

"I request you to please accept this suggestion and file your returns. Also, spread the message amongst your friends and other business community," I-T Principal Commissioner (Circle-12) Ajay Kumar Chauhan said at the public session held on Friday.

Advance tax is also known as the 'pay as you earn tax' and, as per existing laws, any person whose tax liability is more than Rs 10,000 in a fiscal, he or she should make this payment in instalments rather than doing it at the end of the year.

These receipts ensure the government keeps getting a steady trickle of revenue and also allows taxman to meet the revenue collection target.

Chauhan told the traders that over the last few years the perception of the department has changed and it has an onerous responsibility to act as a service provider.

"The government has asked us to ensure a non-adversarial regime and I can tell you that gone are the days when there used to be coercive action by the department. With the advent of new technology the compliance rate is going up," he told a gathering of traders and businessmen at the local community hall.

The officer, however, said these steps were not targeted at only adding more numbers under the current drive but are some procedures that the assessees needed to be reminded of. "The targets given to us are not mandatory...but widening of tax base is an ongoing exercise," he said.

The officer said there is "no harm" in filing income tax returns and this will only benefit the traders community.

Chauhan's deputy Joint I-T Commissioner Amrutlal urged the traders to not only pay advance tax, file their returns on time, but also get more and more people to pay their taxes and become dutiful assessees.

President of the NDTF Anil Goel told PTI after the session that this is the first time such a public meeting is being held by the department with them.

"We have assured them all cooperation and we believe this is the way forward to create a strong country and a strong economy," Goel said.

The CBDT had a few months back also communicated to the taxman that they should adopt a multi-pronged strategy to achieve this 'not-so-easy' target by holding meetings with trade associations and professional bodies and obtaining data on under-reporting assessees through technical and human intelligence.

The strategy to add new assessees was mooted and formally launched in May this year as the tax department is concerned over the "very small number" of people paying income tax.

As per current data, the taxpayer-base in the country is just over four crore.

 
 
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