While the government continues to introduce various tax reforms, the tax collection staff to population ratio – one of the major factors affecting the revenue collection – remains poor.
While Australia has one staff member to collect tax from 1,000 people, India has one staff member for every 29,000 people. Other Asian countries fare much better than India in this regard. While the ratio in China is one staff member for 1,700 people, in Japan it is 1:2,200.
According to income tax officials, improving the staff-population ratio would be of great help in generating more revenue and reducing the tax rate for honest payers. “With such low staff strength, investigating all tax evasion cases becomes difficult. The officials remain mostly occupied with the routine assessment process and other administrative work,” said a senior I-T official.
He said that owing to the shortage of staff, they conduct searches only in cases where the tax evasion is suspected to be high. “Cases where the amount is suspected to be a few crores are not even touched upon, as every search requires considerable paper work once the operation is completed,” the official said.
The issue has gained importance in the wake of the ongoing protest of I-T officials for promotion to the post of income tax officers (ITO) and implementation of the “cadre restructuring proposal” presented by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in 2009. According to officials, once the proposal is cleared, 20,000 more staff members could be to I-T department.
The income tax department has seen a dip in its staff strength over the years. Officials said that as against 59,000 staff members in the country in 2001, the present strength is 42,000. In Mumbai, the strength has come down from around 7,000 to 5,000.