Urging people to declare their unassessed income under the new compliance window for black money – the Income Tax Declaration Scheme, 2015, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the government is trying to change the relationship between the taxpayer and the Income-Tax Department and is working to improve services including of faster issuance of refunds.
“The basic dynamism in the relationship between the tax assessee and the income tax official is changing. Apprehensions and fears need to be eliminated and discretions will have to be made to disappear,” he said at an event at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Noting that the human contact between the Income-Tax Department and the taxpayer is gradually being reduced, he said that most returns are now being filed online while the time period for refunds is also being significantly reduced.
Jaitley also said the government is trying to provide globally competitive tax rates, maintain stability in tax policy. “We have tried to sort out the retrospective taxation disputes and maintain the stability of the tax policy. Corporate tax must be brought down to globally competitive rates…. The Income Disclosure Scheme is a part of the strategy as we want people to clean up their books,” he said. He also warned people that the technology and real time sharing of information through initiatives of the G-20 and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of the United States will now make it easier to detect violations such as tax evasions and tax avoidance.
Further, the implementation of the goods and services tax will also make income more accountable, he stressed.
“You are getting an exemption from almost all kinds of action one you avail yourself of the IDS,” he said. Jaitley also said that the gold monetisation scheme (GMS) is gradually picking up although the sovereign gold bond scheme is doing much better.
However, a Finance Ministry official said that the GMS has scope to do much better and the Ministry is looking at further changes to it.
“We are working on issues of collection centres…we are trying to make jewellers also collection and purity testing centres under the scheme,” said Saurabh Garg, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs.
He said that apart from banks, the government is also talking to commodity exchanges to take deposits.
About 3.1 tonne of gold has been deposited under the GMS that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November last year.
Garg, however, said that the scheme has not seen sufficient deposits compared to about one tonne of gold imported annually. He also clarified that the scheme is not for those who want to buy jewellery but it is an investment option.