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India Improves Tax Administration

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Further reforms in tax administration for India are being pushed forward following the announcement of the 2010-11 budget.

According to a government statement, the citizen-centric initiative “Sevottam” which was launched as a pilot project at Pune, Kochi and Chandigarh, will be extended to four more cities this year. The centralized processing centre at Bengaluru is reported to be fully functional and processing around 20,000 tax returns daily.

This initiative aimed at reducing the physical interface between the taxpayers and the tax administration and to speed up procedures and processes, will be taken forward by setting up two more centers during the year. The Income Tax department is now ready to notify SARAL-II form for individual salaried taxpayers for the coming assessment year, reported the Ministry of Finance.

The ministry said the proposals related to indirect taxes were focused to achieve a further degree of fiscal consolidation without impairing the recovery process and moving forward on the road to Goods and Services Tax (GST). 'Project ACES' -Automation of Central Excise and Service Tax - has also been rolled out in India.

The Budget included proposals to expand the scope of Settlement Commission in respect of Central Excise and Customs so that a certain category of cases that hitherto fell outside its jurisdiction may be admitted.

Another ministry statement also announces the setting up of a Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects like the Tax Information Network, the New Pension Scheme, the National Treasury Management Agency, the Expenditure Information Network, and the GST, which are in different stages of roll out.

The Finance Minister said that the proposed Technology Advisory Group will oversee the creation of these reliable, secure and efficient IT projects needed for effective tax administration and financial governance.

The statement also announced that the impact of flagship programmes would be evaluated by the 'Independent Evaluation Office' to be set up as an independent entity under a Governing Board chaired by the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. The findings will be published to bring in more transparency and accountability in the implementation of these schemes.