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Centres tax return scheme under judicial scanner
November, 22nd 2006

The Finance Ministry's ambitious scheme to train jobless persons for income tax preparation, a job vested with the chartered accountants so far, has come under judicial scanner.

The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notices to the Finance Ministry and the Director General of Income Tax (Revenue) on a petition challenging the Tax Return Preparers (TRP) scheme. The scheme will provide training to 5,000 unemployed educated persons to assist tax payers with their returns, for a charge of Rs250 per person. The TRPs, to be certified by the second week of February 2007, will then be posted at 100 centres in about 80 cities across the country.

The government introduced the TRP scheme to encourage small and marginal taxpayers to file their returns and thus increase the number of taxpayers in the country. The minimum qualification for TRPs was graduation degree in the stream of commerce, law, economics, mathematics, statistics, or management. TRPs would be reimbursed 3 per cent of the tax collected for the first year's return of a new tax payer, 2 per cent for the second year and 1 pr cent for the third year, on the returns prepared by them.

However, PIL says the scheme encroached on the jurisdiction of Chartered Accountants, for qualified CAs are eligible to prepare the tax returns. It also seeks direction to the finance ministry to prohibit filing of income tax returns by these TRPs.

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