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Income Tax chief: There is no question of amnesty for tax-evaders
March, 04th 2011

Tracking evaders and making life simpler for the taxpayer is Central Board of Direct Taxes chairman Sudhir Chandra's key focus area. Chandra who took over as the head of the direct taxes wing of the revenue department spoke to TOI about the Budget proposals and black money. Excerpts:

Q: There is pressure to remove the proposed MAT on SEZ units. Will the government review it and what would be its implication on the net tax collections?

A: It is a considered decision to move towards the Direct Taxes Code. In the code, profit-linked concessions will be replaced with investment-linked concessions and SEZs will not qualify for profit-linked exemptions. There is thus a case for bringing units and entities in SEZs at par with those located in regular tariff area.

Q: You have provided a concession to several people by allowing them to not file income tax returns if their income is up to Rs 5 lakh. Why has it not been extended to all those who have only salary income and the entire tax is deducted at source?

A: The scheme is yet to be rolled out. Therefore, let us wait for it. The intention behind the scheme is to reduce the compliance burden on small salaried taxpayers who have no income from any other source. Their details are already available with the department in the TDS (tax deducted at source) returns. This scheme will be specially beneficial to jawans and JCOs of the armed and paramillitary forces who serve the country in far-flung areas. In addition, even class three staff and several others in the private sector will also benefit. We will see the response after the scheme is rolled out. If revenue increases and compliance does not decrease, we may extend the scheme gradually.

Q: How many people will benefit from the move?

A: The number will be anywhere between 50 lakh and 60 lakh.

Q: What is your view on an amnesty scheme given the extent of black money that came back into the system whenever they were launched?

A: There is no question of any `amnesty' to tax-evaders. For inadvertent mistakes, there are existing provisions in the law to deal with such cases. For example, there are provisions related to filing revised returns, or filing an application before a commissioner of Income Tax or the Income Tax Settlement Commission.

Q: How many foreign jurisdictions may face non-cooperating action from India and attract enhanced withholding tax?

A: Once the provision is enacted, it will act as a deterrent for non-cooperative jurisdictions. In case there is still reluctance, we will not hesitate in invoking the provisions against any such jurisdiction.

Q: The increase in tax exemption limit by Rs 20,000 does not seem to factor the rate of inflation? What should have been the ideal increase?

A: What has been provided is reasonable, and is a step forwards towards the provisions proposed in the Direct Taxes Code.

Q: Is there any proposal to withdraw the powers of CBDT from intercepting phone conversations?

    Not that I am aware of.

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