Govt sets up panel to simplify income tax laws, reduce litigation

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 28, 2015 01:33 IST
File photo of Union finance minister Arun Jaitley. (PTI Photo)

To rationalise the tax policy and reduce the rising number of litigation, the government has constituted a committee under a former Delhi high court judge to ‘simplify’ the provisions of the Income Tax Act.

Announcing the decision, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said the committee will, from time to time, put up suggestions for consideration of the finance ministry, which will be incorporated in the Act after approval.

“The panel will be headed by justice RV Easwar, who was the chairman of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and judge of the Delhi High Court. It has experts, both from the government and private sector, and the panel will undertake an ongoing study from time to time,” he said.

The committee will have a one-year term.

Jaitley also said that since the government has in the past been engaged in clearing a lot of legacy issues, simplifications will help in reducing litigation. One such issue is retrospective taxation of the previous UPA regime, which the current government has decided not to pursue.

“The first batch containing as many recommendations as possible shall be submitted by January, 31, 2016 so that they can be incorporated in the Finance Bill. The draft suggestions will be put up in the public domain for comments, and only after stakeholder recommendations these will be considered by the government,” revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia said.

According to the terms of reference for the committee, it is expected to “study and identify the provisions, phrases in the Act which are leading to different interpretations and impacting the ease of doing business,” a finance ministry statement added.

Other members of the committee include former law secretary VK Bhasin, EY India chairman Rajiv Memani, chartered accountants Mukesh Patel and Vinod Jain, advocate Ravi Gupta, consultant Ajay Bahl, investment adviser Pradip P Shah and two officers of the Indian Revenue Service — Arvind Modi and Vinay Kumar Singh.

Besides, the government also kicked off special camps for issuing Permanent Account Number (PAN) across India to increase the number of PAN card holders from the current 230 million.

HT was the first to report in August that the government is planning such camps to implement the budget proposal of mandatory quoting of PAN for cash transaction of Rs 1 lakh and above. Such camps will be organised over two days in 40-plus semi urban and rural areas across the country.

The I-T department also launched an e-Sahyog pilot project, with an aim to reduce physical interaction will taxpayers. The project aims to provide an online mechanism to resolve mismatches in tax returns, without people having to visit tax offices. The department will provide an end-to-end e-service using SMSs and e-mails to inform taxpayers about the mismatch and receive their responses through e-mails. Once found satisfactory, these cases will be closed.

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