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Thank-you notes from Income Tax department a pleasant surprise for taxpayers
October, 29th 2016

Over the years, the income tax department has come to acquire an image of an agency that usually harassed taxpayers, including the honest ones. But in the last few days several individuals were surprised to receive a 'Certificate of Appreciation' in their mailbox, with some even mistaking it for a spam mail.

But hold on. The certificate, signed by CBDT chairman Rani Singh Nair, mentions the taxpayer's name and permanent account number (PAN) and acknowledges his/her contribution "towards building of this great Nation".

Although it comes with a bar code at the bottom, it does not entitle you to any benefit. But it does make a distinction between how much an individual has paid in taxes during the last financial year. A majority of those who receive the certificate are in the bronze category, "contributing" between Rs 1 lakh and 10 lakh. Those who have paid Rs 10-50 lakh have been put in the silver category, while a contribution of Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore will be in the gold club. The top segment, which has only a few persons, is platinum with tax payments of Rs 1 crore or more.

The certificates are being sent to taxpayers who have cleared their entire liability, have no outstanding tax liabilities and had filed their returns electronically in the prescribed time, which is July 31. This year, however, the deadline had been extended by five days.

While the certificates are flowing into mailboxes in large numbers now, finance minister Arun Jaitley had handed over some of them at the end of last month. The move comes at a time when the tax department is desperately trying to change its image and appear to be more "customer-friendly" through a series of measures, including less intrusive assessment, lower face-to-face interaction with officers and a more polite language.

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