Timely refund is our priority: CBDT chairman

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Ratneshwar Prasad tells Money Today why honest taxpayers should not fear the taxman and what is being done to improve services and compliance.

Babar Zaidi | Print Edition: February 7, 2008

Ratneshwar Prasad
Ratneshwar Prasad, CBDT chairman

Q. The Tax Return Preparer scheme is a significant step towards making filing easy for the taxpayer.

A. Yes.

Q. What has been the feedback of this scheme?

A. We cleared 3,737 people. The applications were 90,000. Then they were considered and ultimately 3,737 people qualified out of which, I think, nearly 1,800 were taken. The balance are not good enough.

Q. Was it because of ...

A. Even a housewife became a tax return preparer because not much cost was involved. So, many of them became but just for the heck of it.

Q. But at least 1,800 of them are there. How many tax returns have been filed by them?

A. For the figure which I have, they have submitted about 40,000 returns.

Q. That is a significant achievement.

A. At no cost.

Q. It is a small step, but it will go a long way.

A. Yes.

Q. Is the CBDT considering any more such initiatives in this regard?

A. We may have the tax return preparer scheme this year also.

Q. Is there any other scheme, apart from this scheme? This was a very good idea.

A. It was a good idea. But just now there is no such scheme like that. This is the only scheme which will be continued.

Q. What is the procedure? Was it a window which was opened last year, those who qualified or is it a continuous process?

A. This year again we will ask for applications.

Q. So, it is a window when the application comes or what is the time frame when one can apply for it?

A. We want to put it on the Web. We put it in the records when they apply, then they will have to clear the entrance examination and then we will be keeping certain percentage of marks to be qualified. Then they will go for training.

Q. As an extension, what has been the feedback or what has been the experience of the E-filing for individual returns?

A. E-filing is mandatory only for corporates and 44-AB returns. But it is not mandatory for others. It is optional.

Q. But do you have anything which shows ...

A. But this year, this 44-AB and corporate returns – the total returns have come to 6,25,000 or something like that. But we received over 13,00,000 returns. So, seven lakh people have used the option of E-filing.

Q. And they have E-filed the returns.

A. Yes.

Q. The E-filing thing is another example of how technology is helping.

A. Yes. Technology is also helping in having our database. We are having database.

Q. And improved compliance because it becomes so much easier.

A. No. Once the database is there, then you could utilise it for selection of cases for scrutiny. It is a manual selection. But computer assistance will be fed in the data as to what is the criteria that we have to see. That helps us there.

Q. Will there be an extension to the AIR scheme?

A. The AIR scheme is current, going through well.

Q. But having a database, does that help the AIR better?

A. It does help because there are some people who have, say, invested over Rs. 15 lakh in mutual funds. They are not income-tax payers. We try to locate them.

Q. But how effective has the scheme been?

A. It has been effective. Our personal income-tax collection is up by nearly 46 or 47 per cent.

Q. Has the tax net also increased, the number of people?

A. That is increasing every year, but not by big amounts; say about a million every year.

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