What steps have you taken to increase tax collection from the Tricity?
It is a multi-layered approach. We have been reaching out to taxpayers through tax awareness programmes and through school children. Today, we are reaching out to taxpayers who do not have any communication with tax department like the people living in rural areas and others who do not have the facility of attaining tax advice. We are trying to encourage them to approach us so that we can try to resolve their problems. Secondly, we have been reaching out to taxpayers individually as well. Every officer in north-western region (NWR) have been communicating with taxpayers to tell them about their tax payment from last year and the economic scenario of the sector in which they are working, thus, giving them the rationale for the tax they need to pay. We have also been reaching out to the taxpayer through school-going children. Lastly, we have been taking punitive action whenever defaults come to
How do you plan to tap businesses, service industry and educational institutions that do not issue a bill and avoid tax net?
Now there is GST so the issue of billing, payment of taxes is based on that. GST is a system that links up everything, right from the raw material to its end product and its sale. We are continuously in touch with the GST Department and wherever there is a problem of bogus billing or tax evasion, we share information and carry out searches and surveys. Almost 300 surveys of TDS defaulters have been carried out. We tell them to pay otherwise or face penalty and prosecution. We have filed a large number of prosecutions and people are coming forward to get their cases compounded by paying penalty or what is called the ‘compounding fee’. There are almost 800 cases of compounding that have come to light. Defaulters are ready to pay compounding fee so that they do not get prosecuted.
Can we all file our tax by ourselves? What is a good way to file tax?
Yes, anyone can pay tax on their own. The best way to file taxes is to do it online. So far, out of the 65 lakh returns we have received this fiscal year, more than 95 per cent were received online- through the website of the I-T department.
Does your office help people in tax paying process?
It is our job to help people in managing and collecting tax. We are trying constantly to educate people about how to pay tax. We reach out to them to make sure that everyone gets all information about taxes. Anyone who has problems in tax paying can come to our offices anytime. This is our job and we are here for the people.
Any plans to educate the middle class on ways to save tax?
We say pay tax. There are investments a person can make to save tax but all of these are designed in a way that the benefit goes to the individual. We are encouraging people to create savings by saying that if they save up to a certain amount, they do not pay tax on it because that saving will help that person in future. After availing these benefits, if any tax is due, then we say pay tax.
Have you done some CSR projects?
We call it Income Tax Social Responsibility (ITCS). The idea is that we all breathe this air and if you will clean up the air it will help us all. We have set up hundreds of vertical gardens under ‘green plastic initiative’. We use green plastic bottles, put them on the walls of our offices, schools, colleges, hospitals, railway stations etc. These plants in green bottles reduce the air pollution and use only 8% water as compared to normal plants. Our Ludhiana office has more than 16,000 of such potted plants and has been awarded as the largest vertical garden in India by the Limca Book of Records. We have another ITSC programme named ‘School se Sarhad Tak’. We encourage school students to make cards for our jawans, who are on borders protecting our country. We also organise their distribution. Starting from August, 2018, till today, we have sent 2.5 lakh cards to soldiers in remote areas. In December, when it was snowing and all the roads were blocked, army airlifted greeting cards to send them to Siachen Glacier. Through this programme, school students learn that there is somebody who is risking his/her life for our safety. We are educating students that these things are possible only because of taxes so we also prepare taxpayers of future. In another scheme, ‘Slum to Scholar’, we try and give education to slum children with no access to education.
How will the new office at Sector 68 in Mohali help the I-T department and people?
This is a facility for the taxpayers. Our job is to manage and facilitate tax payment. So if we can create a better office, it will give employees better work life balance and better facilities to the people. If a taxpayer needs any help, he/she can come and get the problems resolved. New offices are for making us more reachable to the people.