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Income Tax department sets up call centres
April, 17th 2012

The Income Tax department has got a little more tech-savvy. In an effort to bridge the gap between taxman and the taxpayer, the department has started five call centres across the country to attend to queries from general public.

The main centre is in Gurgaon, with regional ones in Jammu, Shillong, Kochi, and Jangipur in West Bengal, which is also union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee's constituency. The Gurgaon call centre started around three months ago with pilot runs underway. It was made operational on a full-fledged basis only recently. The other centres were inaugurated last week, said the chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Laxman Das. CBDT is the governing body for income tax department.

Das was in the city to attend valediction function of 64{+t}{+h} batch of Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers at National Academy of Direct Taxes (NADT). With regional centres, information services will be available in eight regional languages apart from English and Hindi. These centres are expected to cover taxpayers residing in nearby states too, with the set-up in Gurgaon being the main call centre, said Das. The regional languages in which services are available are Assamese, Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Malayalam and Tamil and Khasi, a north-eastern language.

The taxpayers can get services by dialling 1961 which is a toll free number and can get a host of basic information about the department. Inquiries can be made about application for a permanent application number (PAN), e-filing of returns, payment of refunds, TDS and other information. Information about the ward under whose jursidcriction a taxpayer comes is also available. Although this would be only the basic information instead of any major advice on tax planning, said Das, while talking to newspersons at the sidelines of this valediction function.

About the tax mop up, Das said even though a target of 5 lakh crore was set for 2011-12, it may be barely achieved with even a likelihood of collections falling short marginally. Das hinted that a high target may have been set due to various government expenditures lined up. The growth target although has been revised to 12% from 18% considering the trend.

Das, however, did not disclose the exact figures saying that the final compilation of receipts from state governments was still pending. State governments are also liable to pay tax deducted at source (TDS) on certain counts. The payment is done through book adjustments instead of actual transfers, he said.

The quantum of refunds paid to taxpayers has grown by 35% at 97,000 crore. Sizable refunds also are a factor in inhibiting growth in collection, he said. Das said that the slowdown had led to low growth in collections. However, condition is still better than slowdown of 2008-9 when growth was as low as 8 to 9%.

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