Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has called for better co-ordination among three enforcement agencies under the revenue department - the income tax department, Enforcement Directorate and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) - to punish those evading tax.
Speaking on the 159th Income Tax Day today, the finance minister stressed on the need for better information sharing between the three agencies so that only those avoiding paying taxes are being dealt with severely and not every other taxpayer is harassed.
"If these three agencies work in consonance in sharing information - in this day and age if you can have right kind investigation, correct information, and correct kind of assessee-based knowledge and the profile of the assessee - the work of the income tax department would then be anything but that of a facilitator," says the finance minister.
She says the whole business of the department is to build trust with persons who are paying taxes, and having the right kind of information would help build that trust. She asked these agencies to use tools such as data mining and big data to get that information.
The finance minister also pointed out that there are only about 80 million income tax payers in a country with over a billion people. She said that there was a scope for bringing more people under the tax net. However, she cautioned the tax department against using too intrusive methods in collecting taxes.
She said with the correct information, it can be done electronically without harassing taxpayers. She also said the department should put extra efforts to check avoidance and evasion.
On the tax collection target for this year, Sitharaman said that compared to last five years during which the income tax collections have doubled, this year the target set at Rs 13.35 lakh crore against last year's Rs 11.8 lakh crore is a very easy target for the department to achieve.
Sitharaman said that with over 6.68 crore of returns being filed electronically, tax officials don't need to run after tax payers, and hence a target of 13 per cent growth in tax collection is not a big ask for the department.