Honest tax payers have nothing to fear, says FM Arun Jaitley
May, 26th 2015
Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Monday asked tax officials to squeeze the parallel economy but gave an assurance to honest taxpayers that they should not be afraid of the ‘black money Bill’ as it is meant to target individuals who have stashed illegal assets abroad.
“It [Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015] is targeted against those who have stalked their illegal assets abroad,” said Jaitley while addressing a conference of top officials of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). He further added that, “Parallel economy has to be squeezed in a free and transparent manner.”
At a time when the government is facing criticism over minimum alternate tax (MAT) notices to foreign investors on capital gains from investments and the complexities in the Saral form, Jaitley said that while the department should address the concerns of investors, it has to expand the tax base without being intrusive.
He exhorted “the income tax department to be prompt in redressing grievances of tax payers and expand the tax base in a non-intrusive manner even as they strive to achieve the revenue generation targets.”
He also called for an internationally competitive tax regime with a stable policy and a non-adversarial administration. “We have to bring the tax rate to global level while at the same time remove the exemptions,” said Jaitley adding that the government is following a policy “where nobody should be harassed and the evaders should not succeed.”
The government, the minister said, has taken a host of measures to curb the menace of black money. These include passage of the black money law by Parliament and introduction of Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Bill to deal with the unaccounted domestic wealth. “Black money has to be squeezed”, he said, adding only those who have defied the system in the past and intend to defy the compliance window to come clean have to worry.
Jaitley further said that improvement in tax collection will increase the ability of the government to step up spending on social and infrastructure projects and provide relief to individual taxpayers.
For the current financial year, the minister said, direct tax collection was likely to improve by 14-15 per cent and there was possibility of government improving upon the fiscal deficit target of 3.9 per cent.
However, he added that the government would prefer to increase expenditure on social sector schemes instead of improving its fiscal deficit target.
The objective is not to better fiscal deficit number, he said, adding, “…we want to increase expenditure because increased expenditure leads to growth. We would like larger revenue collections to be invested in areas of infrastructure, irrigation, in the social sectors to bring larger dividends back to the economy.”
“If the (tax) base increases, collection increases and those who have to pay taxes are compelled to pay it, the ability of government to give concession, in terms of rates to honest tax payers also increases,” he added.
Observing that there are no grey areas in taxation, the finance minister said, “Either a tax is payable or it’s not payable. If it’s not payable no attempt has to be made to recover it but if it is payable then there is no scope for any other collateral consideration why it must not be recovered for the government.” The policy has to be “crystal clear” that nobody should be harassed, but the evader must not succeed, Jaitley added.