The finance ministry is gung-ho about revenue collections, but dissatisfied income tax (I-T) officials might spoil the party. The officials are up in arms over the lack of "infrastructure facilities" and pending vacant positions. They have threatened to go on a half-day strike on October 1 and then on a full-day strike on October 8. Thereafter, they plan to stop searches and surveys if their demands are not met.
The officials claimed their agitation would make the government fail to meet income-tax targets for the current financial year.
The Joint Council of Action of Service Associations of Income Tax Department, representing 97 per cent of the I-T department workforce, said: “As a result of the agitation, the government of India will fail to achieve the direct tax collection target of Rs 7,91,464 crore for the fiscal.”
This agitation is against the “attitude of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)”, it said.
“We have a five-point charter that we have been discussing with them for the past one-and-a-half years, but have not got any response. On October 1, we will do a half-day walk-out. October 8 will be a full one-day strike across the country,” said Ashok Kumar Kanojia, president, Income Tax Employees Federation.
The government is targeting a direct tax collection, which includes income tax and corporate tax, of approximately Rs 8 lakh crore in 2015-16, a growth of 13.24 per cent over that of the revised estimates of the previous financial year. It has collected 34.2 per cent of the Budget target till July.
The demands include promotion of income tax officers to assistant commissioner level and filling up of vacant positions.
Income tax officers assess cases where annual income is below Rs 10 lakh, while assistant commissioners and deputy commissioners assess taxpayers with income of Rs 10 lakh and above. Additional commissioners, commissioners and chief commissioners have a supervisory role.
This comes at a time when the I-T department has launched an ambitious drive to bring 10 million new taxpayers under its net and has asked taxmen to achieve the target within the current financial year. The CBDT has laid down region-wise targets to be met.
“While the government has given a target to us to bring 10 million assessees into the tax net this fiscal, there are no infrastructure facilities such as computers etc. In fact, we are facing severe staff crunch. The target cannot be met in the current scenario,” said Kanojia.
In 2013, the Cabinet had cleared a proposal to create 20,750 additional posts in the I-T department , including revenue service officers.
“But the government has failed miserably to fulfil its promise and to provide necessary infrastructure to its workforce in the past two financial years since 2013, owing to delay in implementation of the cadre restructuring proposal,” he added.
Nearly 800 posts are lying vacant at the deputy commissioner and assistant commissioner level together, the Joint Council of Action said.
“About 35 per cent posts are lying vacant with 500 at the assistant commissioner level alone. We have asked the government to do outsourcing in this situation or fill up posts at the earliest through promotions,” said Kanojia.
The I-T workforce is also demanding regularisation of daily wage employees who have been working for the past 10-15 years.
“We will intensify our protests after the October 8 strike. It will directly affect the government’s collection target. The matter is in the knowledge of (finance) minister Arun Jaitley, but no direction has been given so far,” he said.