Addressing the valedictory session of Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), Arun Jaitley emphasized the need to have simpler tax regime for the hassle free working. He said Laws must be simple to avoid the possibility of excessive litigation even if you have a large number of population and assessees.
He also said that the ITAT is an important forum for the reason that it is first opportunity that an assessee gets outside the structure of the Income-tax Department to agitate its case. The tax tribunal is constituted by experts from two different branches – one having a judicially trained mind which is keen to interpret the law and the other having experience in taxation. He also stated that this tribunal, set up in 1941, has become mother of all tribunals and if we look back at last 75 years, it is this tribunal which has stood the test of time. He also stated that outstanding judgments of the ITAT are published in various journals and are referred to as good precedent.
The minister said that the Government is looking into the recommendations of Parthasarathi Shome committee with a view to simplify tax administration. "The home Committee report has given several recommendations which we are at a very advanced stage looking into. It has suggested certain reforms in tax administration. Shri Jaitley also said that a committee has also been set upunder Justice R V Easwar to simplify the Income Tax Act.
Arun Jaitley also talked of several steps being taken by his ministry in the area of Income Tax. He said in any case where the tax is up to Rs.10 lakhs, one need not go to tribunal, if it is less than Rs.20 lakh, one need not go to the high court. So the numbers of appeals are being restricted. He highlighted the importance of Information Technology (IT) saying that IT has a very important role now in tax assessments. More and more returns are now online, the queries are being addressed online, answers can come online thus helping people in eliminating corruption. Also the tax refunds have also gone online. The Minister said to adhere to the judgments, the assessment of the officials in the tax departments has to be linked to the quality of their performance and not to the targets. That is one of instructions being issued.
Referring to his last year Budget proposal of reducing corporate tax from 30 per cent to 25 per cent over 4 years along with removal of tax exemptions, Shri Jaitley said it would make the tax system cleaner and simpler and will ensure that "oppressive taxmen does not hover over us".
He also added that once a simpler tax system comes into place, there will be lesser appeals and further efforts would be made to bring down arrears.
"I do hope that with all these changes, and improved performance in the tribunal for which you are endeavoring, the arrears will be low, our tax buoyancies will be higher and the harassment to the assessee would probably be least."he said.