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CBDT calls for addressing taxpayers' grievances after PM Modi's disappointment
March, 30th 2015

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairperson Anita Kapur has directed top officials of the I-T department to tackle grievances of taxpayers related to refund and 'harassment' by 'arrogant' assessing officers on a war footing.

Instructions to principal chief commissioners and directors general have been sent after Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged the issue at his Pragati video conference on Wednesday. Kapur has asked the top officials to pull up their socks and put their house in order before Modi's next review.

"The status of pending public grievances with the income-tax department was reviewed by the PM on March 25 through videoconferencing... During the meeting, he expressed dissatisfaction about delays in responding to public grievances by our officers as well as about the harassment meted out to the taxpayers and officious behaviour of our officers," Kapur wrote in her recent communication to the field offices of the I-T department.

The CBDT chief told the officers that deadlines set for this task earlier should be scrupulously followed.

As per stipulated guidelines, grievances pending for more than one year have to be resolved by April 30 while those pending for more than two months should be addressed by June 7. Kapur has pointed out that the CBDT during the Pragati public grievance redressal initiative of the PM had assured that it will fix the issue before the PM takes the next review on the said subject.

"In view of the above assurance and the fact that the PM will be personally monitoring status of public grievances on a monthly basis through Pragati programme, redressal of public grievances must take utmost priority in your work plan," the order states.

"If need be, officers may be directed to conduct special drives to dispose of the public grievances pending with them so as to achieve the targets. Any breach of the timeline will be viewed seriously and accountability will be required to be fixed for such failure," Kapur's order states. Grievance petitions, requests and complaints from taxpayers numbering several lakhs have been pending with the department with a majority of them related to delay in issuance of refund and clarity on tax demands.

All chief commissioners have been asked to take diligent steps and see that Modi does not find any shortcoming in his next meeting. The delay in processing tax refund claims has shot up causing more inconvenience to taxpayers and a higher interest outgo for the government.

Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India have also been highlighting the sharp increase in the pendency of tax refund claims.
Modi has taken up the Pragati programme in order to ensure better service delivery by government departments and distribution of benefits of welfare programmes to the common public.

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