Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has put stresses on a mind-set change in tax officials while advocating a technology-driven approach.

She was attending the first meeting of senior officials of Income-tax and GST wings in Gujarat. She told a large group of tax department officials that;

“Tax administrators have a very delicate role to perform. A mindset change is needed to cater to an informed citizenry.”

Echoing Narendra Modi’s solution of rolling out measures to make sure that honest taxpayers don’t suffer, Sitharaman underscored curtailing the interface of taxpayers with authorities. The minister said:

“The use of technology and faceless assessment is the need of the hour in tax administration today.”

The comments passed at her first meeting with senior officials of income tax and GST wings in Gujarat were reported days after the revenue department mandated the use of unique document identification numbers to avoid any kind of misuse of official communication to harass taxpayers.

In an interview, Modi stated that the government emphasized take necessary steps in order to reduce harassment amid fresh complaints of intimidation. In the past weeks these voices have grown louder after V G Siddhartha, founder of Café Coffee Day committed suicide. He in his suicide note mentioned the harassment by a senior income tax officer.

A top I-T official informed Times of India that Sitharaman emphasised on building a “taxpayer-friendly” environment. The official said:

“The finance minister asked us to respect wealth creators and facilitate them by cutting down unnecessary procedural delays. She stressed us to remain more humane in our approach.”

FM later had a detailed conversation with the industry representatives. Briefing the press later, the minister said discussions with tax assesses should go smoothly. She said;

“If information is needed, it must be a faceless process. There is no need for tax officials to visit the assessors. Instead, use technology to simplify the process so that repeatedly seeking information is not necessary.”

She also added;

“As far as assesses and their issues are concerned, we must communicate with them and solve issues by treating them respectfully.”

She further said:

“Targets are set following a lot of discussion and consultation. All regions are taken on board before fixing our targets. Particularly, I would like to underline that we’re not overstretching ourselves.”

According to the FM, the department would soon come out with a solution to the problem of delayed reflection of tribunal judgment in favour of the tax assessed in his or her I-T returns. 

Finance Minister: India’s tax administration needs to change its mind-set