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I-T men oppose government proposal to enlarge tax base
October, 07th 2015

The government's ambitious target of adding at least one crore new taxpayers this year to expand its direct tax base and achieve its budget target suffered a setback with two major income tax (I-T) employees' associations, comprising nearly 76,000 income tax officers and other staff, refusing to participate in the programme.

A 'pen down' strike has continued since September 15 where the officials under the umbrella of the two associations — I-T Employees' Federation and I-T Gazetted Officers' Association — have stopped work relating to widening of the tax base besides refusing to adhere to the deadline of completion of scrutiny assessments.

Ajay Goyal, president of Income-Tax Gazetted Officers' Association, said the two bodies have written to Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairperson Anita Kapur, giving a deadline of October 8 to accept their demands. "The demands include promotion of I-T officers in the cadre of assistant commissioners and providing adequate infrastructure and modern work environment to its staff," he said. The employees are also demanding more manpower to meet increased work pressure.

Recently, Kapur had asked all field offices to add at least 25 lakh new taxpayers every month to double the tax base by the end of the financial year. At present, 3.5 crore people file returns, which is around 2.5% of the population. In some developed countries, the tax base is around 15% of the population.

The agitating officers had earlier observed a half-day strike on October 1 and have threatened to go on strike from October 8 if the CBDT fails to respond to their demands. Already, I-T employees have stopped uploading key I-T data in the system that forms the core of its operation.

"All our employees that form 97% of the workforce of the I-T department have been asked to organize black flag demonstration before the CBDT chairperson and all its members the moment they step out of North Block and visit any of the I-T offices," Goyal said.

The I-T officials are demanding implementation of a Cabinet decision that had approved cadre restructuring and expansion of the department by creation of additional posts of around 20,000 officials. "The CBDT has failed to implement the Cabinet decision," Goyal claimed.

The CBDT has created several taxpayer-friendly public interface that is resulting in thousands of grievances and queries being addressed to the field staff, but the department has not allocated either separate manpower or infrastructure to deal with this additional work, he added.

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