Anita Kapur, chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), tells HT that implementation of goods and services tax (GST) will help control black money troubles, and talks about other challenges. Edited excerpts:
How can taxes be reduced in India in years to come?
Tax rates and liability will be reduced if everyone pays taxes honestly. The challenge in India is that we have a large number of non-filers, plus a huge number of filers who understate income. The CBDT is trying to curb these two segments for good revenue. We are working to solve this by reaching out to people in a non-intrusive manner.
What can be an effective policy initiative to curb black money?
Implementation of GST can help in curbing domestic black money. Though it is a reform for indirect taxes, there are filers who understate incomes by not reporting each and every transaction. By doing this, they not only ‘save’ on the excise, VAT, Octroi etc, but also under report incomes. Such practices lead to generation of black money in the system. Once GST is in place, we will also have the correct and exact data of transactions and then the tax department can counter check the GST returns filed by these people, against their declared incomes. So, it will be an enabler for direct taxes too.
What is the status on mandatory quoting of PAN for large transactions?
As of now there is no rethinking. Making PAN mandatory in terms of the finance minister’s budget speech requires an amendment in the Income-Tax Rule 114B. We will be putting it up for the finance minister’s consideration for approval of the changes. Once it is done, we will notify it for the implementation.
How successful have the initiatives for easing tax filing been?
At present, over 47% of people file returns after office hours. Earlier, when tax returns were filed manually, one had to take a day off from work. Similarly, over 80% of the taxes are paid through net banking and ATMs. Thus, linking net banking to paying returns is also yielding benefits. More such efforts will be taken soon to further ease processes for the taxpayers.
How many people are linking Aadhar numbers with their tax filing to cut down verification?
Till now, over 1.25 million returns have been verified electronically through one-time password (OTP). Over 1.67 million have linked their Aadhar numbers (though not all have filed returns yet). People are choosing to cut out the cumbersome process of printing forms and sending them to Bengaluru.
We would encourage people to use the OTP facility and file correct details to help the department process returns and issue refunds in a seamless manner. We have till now received 9.62 million e-filed returns, and the e-filing period has still not ended. We expect the numbers to increase.