B.M. Singh, chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), feels that the computerisation exercise, undertaken by the income tax department, would be the first of its kind in the world once it is fully operational. Besides, it will also enhance the quality of the taxpayer services and help IT department in better profiling of the taxpayers. In an interview with Gaurav Choudhury, he spoke about a variety of issues concerning the income tax department. Excerpts:
There has been a major growth in direct tax collections in last financial year. What would you attribute this to?
During the fiscal year 2006-07, there has been an unprecedented growth of over 39 per cent in collecting direct taxes. This is attributable not only to the better tax compliance due to improvements in tax administration but also to the economic growth. We hope to surpass this growth in direct tax revenues.
How has the tax collections been this financial year (2007-08) so far?
The direct tax collections this year have been encouraging. Till July, direct tax collections have grown by 41 per cent as compared to the same period last year.
The IT department has undertaken a major computerisation exercise. What is its status?
The national network connecting 745 locations in 510 cities and towns across India is in place and the National Data Centre will be ready shortly. The applications system is undergoing a makeover from a two-tier server-client architecture to a three-tier architecture, which hasn’t been tried on this scale anywhere. Once the new architecture is in place, returns will be processed at the Central Processing Centres in the four metros and Bangalore to enable speedier processing of returns and prompt issue of refunds.
After the computersisation exercise is complete, can we expect mandatory e-filing of tax returns for individuals and Hindu undivided families by the next financial year?
e-filing was made compulsory for all corporate taxpayers last year and received a good response. During this year, about 1.46 lakh other taxpayers filed e-returns voluntarily by July 31. Filing of e-TDS returns will be compulsory for certain category of taxpayers from September 1, 2007, while e-payment of taxes will be introduced at authorised agency banks from January 1, 2008.