I-T dept to tame the taxman
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Throughout history the taxman has been perceived as unethical, unapproachable and, above all, a pestering species. Now, for the very first time the income tax department is looking to change that image.
The I-T department plans to ingrain the virtues of an ethical professional, well equipped with soft skills in its officials. The department plans to begin the makeover with its front-line staff and senior officers.
The first step in bringing about change is to acknowledge the need to change.
The I-T department admits, "There exists a wide gap between the perception of the department in the mind of an average tax payer and the ideal response required from the department to forge a long-lasting relationship with the tax payer".
Sources told The Indian Express that the training in soft skills include personal habits, traits of dependability, conscientiousness, ethics and integrity.
"There are certain conduct of revenue officers like ignorance of work, laziness, corruption, showing favours, arrogance and greed that may cause loss to treasury. The training designed for officials specifically target these weaknesses," the source said.
There would be special focus on the job posts and functions which are especially vulnerable to corruption along with the sectors susceptible to the menace.
The department is also devising a strategy to reduce the interaction between tax payers and officers by developing infrastructure, and processes taking into account even small details like encounter with car parking attendants, guards, peons or information counters.
"While tax payers need encouragement, we are known to be unapproachable... they need education and assistance while we are seen as unhelpful... we don't show much desire to solve their problems," the source said.
So what spurs the I-T department towards this change? It becomes important in view of the lofty target set for the current year and the sluggishness in the economy. The government has pegged direct tax collection for this year at Rs 5.70 lakh crore, up around 15 per cent year-on-year. Advance tax collection is not very inspiring. It rose only by 5 per cent during Q1 of this fiscal.
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