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'Relationship managers' enter Income -Tax dept
July, 22nd 2009

Thirty large corporate taxpayers get personalised attention.

Happy to help you may remind you of the famous ad of a private telecom services company, but the Income Tax (I-T) department is also eager to tell large corporate taxpayers roughly the same thing.

So, client executives and relationship managers so far confined to the private sector and especially service providers have now made an entry into the tax department, too.

Just like the relationship manager at your bank, the client executive will coordinate all the tax requirements of a company, which could range from income tax to central excise and service tax. And they would be always willing to help during any problem whether it is getting refunds, settlement of credit or even getting suggestions for better services.

These friendly executives are part of the Large Taxpayer Unit (LTU) a combined entity to deal with the direct and indirect tax issues for large taxpayers.

And, unlike the private sector where the relationship manager is often an outsider and only has an overview on how the business is run the LTU in Mumbai has appointed one officer for each of the 30 companies under its jurisdiction. By the end of the year, this will be extended to 50 companies. These officers could be anywhere in the hierarchy between assistant commissioner and additional commissioner.

Apart from the suggestions it has already received, the tax department is also conducting a customer survey with the help of the client executives to improve service quality.

Senior tax department officials said it was not a token show of a change in attitude, but a message from the government that the revenue department needed to adopt a more cordial attitude towards all taxpayers.

At the LTU, the number of taxpayers has been deliberately kept low to ensure that companies get personalised attention. With service being the buzzword, even the selection of the officers for the LTU is done after a detailed briefing on the new assignment and the importance of the unit.

The job entails facilitating compliance and not probing each and every entry or paper submitted by the taxpayer. There is a different wing altogether that takes care of scrutiny of assessments, investigation and further action, said an official.

While companies were reluctant to join the LTU initially, the government has ensured that benefits such as the facility to transfer excess credit of central excise or service tax accumulated in one unit to any other eligible unit are provided to assessees. This will help the company adjust its tax payments across tax departments and save interest cost for the department.

Similarly, there are no mandatory tax audits for companies in LTUs and, even if a case is selected, the audit schedules are decided in consultation with the taxpayers. Cases are picked up on the basis of a scientific risk-management procedure.

The Mumbai LTU was established in 2008 and it collected Rs 9,332 crore last year in 2008-09. For this year, the target is 37 per cent higher at Rs 12,821 crore. Of this, it has already collected around Rs 842 crore in the first- quarter instalments of advance taxes for 2009-10.

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