NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday urged authorities to develop a sense of pride in citizens that their tax money is being used for national development.
Addressing tax administrators for the first time, Modi asked them to double tax payers to 10 crore from the present 5.43 crore. A senior official who attended the meeting said, “A plan to approach pain points in tax collection will be drawn up soon and placed before the government. It will include special drives to sensitise people to pay taxes.”
“The Prime Minister has asked tax officials to build a “bridge of confidence with tax payers so that they pay taxes without fear of harassment,” revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia told the reporters on Thursday.
“People of India are inherently honest. If you build trust, then people will pay taxes and you will be able to achieve the target,” Modi told the officials while urging a “soft and sober” behaviour.
However, former officials in the tax department feel that unless the government brings about specific corrections at all levels, the systemic problem of attitude and approach will remain the same. “The problem is not at the top, but at the operational level,” said S.S. Khan, former member of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
He said educating the tax payers has to be approached positively, from its current method that is more threatening. “Corporate tax collection has been a major problem for the authorities. The proposed plan will address it and improve corporate tax collection and compliance,” sources who attended the meeting said.
Prime Minister also suggested strengthening of five pillars of tax administration - revenue, accountability, probity, information and digitisation (RAPID) - and invited suggestions from officers on how measures to improve tax collection.
He told the gathering that tax administrators should study the success of people voluntarily giving up their subsidy reflected in surrender of LPG gas connections. Modi said that the tax base too could be increased significantly, provided the tax administrators demonstrate the leadership to bring about a change.