“The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is working to create an atmosphere where a taxpayer’s life becomes so “easy” that they are never compelled to visit an income tax department office and the hassle of paying taxes is “eliminated totally”, its chief has said. CBDT chairperson Anita Kapur says while there can be no alternative to paying taxes on income, the revenue establishment can at least go the extra mile in ensuring that an individual’s experience remains pleasant and not bitter while doing this national duty.
“Every tax department has to collect taxes...I don’t think there can be doubts about that. The department exists to collect taxes and payment of taxes is also a painful job because everybody feels that their hard-earned income is being taken away. So, there is a general position which is not a very congenial position. Now, the effort of the department is to create an environment whereby we cannot take away the liability of taxes but we can make the process of paying taxes so simple that at least the cost of compliance and also the hassle of paying taxes is eliminated totally,” Kapur said.
She said the effort of the income tax department’s apex policy making body is to usher in such measures and policies that make tax compliance a very easy and smooth affair. “Taxpayers should get all facilities whereby they can comply with the laws easily and they should also have the facility that their grievances get redressed in short time,” the CBDT boss said.
She spelled out the board’s desire to see that if a taxpayer wants some help to understand their liabilities, the tax administration “should be there to help them (taxpayers) understand” it nicely. “Because, you see, we are a developing country. You have a certain level of taxpayers who can afford the best of legal advice and professionals are there to help them as there are complex tax issues considering that their businesses are complex. Also, there is a large population comprising people who have simple tax issues so they should be in a position to do their tax filings easily, they should be in a position to seek help and understand what their actual tax liability is? So, with an agenda that (we should strive to) make life easy (for taxpayers), there should be very low cost for compliance in terms of hiring professional help,” she said.
Kapur said she would, in fact, want to have an atmosphere where there is “actually no requirement for hiring professional help for an average taxpayer or for a salaried employee or for someone who is running a small business. Second, the taxpayer should not, as far as possible, be called to our offices because that also translates into a compliance cost. Say, for example, a salaried employee has to take leave or for a small businessman, he has to shut his shop and come and attend to whatever the tax requirements are,” she said, adding this exercise could be done away with to a large extent.
The CBDT chief also said her department was working towards achieving a goal where “99% of taxpayers need not see our offices” at any point of time. “We are trying to put in place a system that taxpayers file their return electronically from anywhere, any time and they get their tax intimation online,” she said. Taxpayers, Kapur added, should be getting their refunds online without involving the taxman.