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Efforts on to build trust between tax officers and taxpayers
March, 31st 2014

The procedural and structural reforms’ efforts to bring trust between the tax officer and taxpayer would soon be fruitful, said Parthasarathy Shome, advisor to the finance minister. “There would be a possible solution where the good taxpayer is not hampered and the poor taxpayer can be targeted.”

Releasing a book on service tax published by The Society of Auditors, Association of Chartered Accountants, in a function organised by the Society and International Chamber of Indirect Tax Professionals, he said, "It is true there are hitches, but hopefully, very soon we will come to an area of trust."

The work of the Tax Administration Reforms Commission (TARC), focusing on rules, procedures and structural reforms in tax administration, is on and it is supposed to give its first report by end-May. It has another year's tenure for four quarterly reports.

"Hopefully, there will be some dynamic recommendations, and once they are out, they will be discussed by the tax administration and taxpayers. In this process, we are going to various metros and we have met officers from both departments in Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata, and we are going to have such a meeting in Delhi." In each of these places, the Commission has also invited chambers of commerce, chartered accountants and tax advisors.

Despite the functional and structural tax reforms through the Direct Tax Code (DTC) and Goods and Services Tax (GST), there is one challenge that has emerged in five years. There is certain distrust between the taxpayer and the officer, he said. This is probably because between 2009 and 2012, in the Budget, there have been introduced a lot of retrospective changes in income tax and indirect tax. In most countries, the word taxpayer has disappeared and stakeholders for firms and companies and customers for individuals are used.

Shome said the tax base needed to be widened while the rates needed to be reduced to make the system more effective and beneficial to the economy. The personal income tax rate structure is one of the lowest in the world.

"Let us take $5,000. If you convert this into the local currencies of Germany, the UK, the US, Japan, India and China, you will find that our rate is the lowest. And given our purchasing power parity is higher, for $5,000 our effective rates are even lower," he said.

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