After Modi prod, I-T dept looks to redress taxpayer grievances on priority

New Delhi, May 10 (PTI) After Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his displeasure over delays in the addressing of taxpayers’ grievances in the Income Tax department, CBDT has put these cases on fast-track with the “highest level” of its authorities monitoring the progress in this regard.

Anita Kapur ,Chairperson of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the apex authority of Income Tax department.
Anita Kapur ,Chairperson of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the apex authority of Income Tax department.

The department has now put special emphasis on the disposal of these cases as it has asked its officers to devote extra efforts to that and share the trends on its internal online platform called ‘Sevottam’, which mainly connects all I-T offices across the country.

“Each and every case is being monitored very closely by senior officers and the data is being updated every day for review by CBDT. Board Chairperson Anita Kapur and other members are reviewing the exercise virtually on a daily basis,” sources in the I-T department said.

A communication circulated in this regard, which was accessed by PTI, said that “timely disposal of grievances has been a subject of continuous emphasis and the disposal of grievances is now being monitored at the highest level in the Income Tax department”.

A senior official said that laying extra emphasis on the updation of records on the online communication channel and its regular monitoring would ensure “that the process of grievance redressal is always prompt and scaled up to the desired level”.

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the apex policy- making body of the I-T department, had recently called for the “top priority” to be accorded to addressing taxpayers’ grievances after the prime minister’s review.

Taking a stern view of the rap on the knuckles from Modi, Chairperson Kapur had asked all senior officers of the department to pull up their socks and put the house in order before the next review by the prime minister.

“The status of pending public grievances with the Income Tax department was reviewed by the PM on March 25 through video-conferencing… During the meeting, he expressed dissatisfaction about delays in responding to public grievances by our officers as well as about the harassment meted out to the taxpayers and officious behaviour of our officers,” Kapur had written in her recent communication to the field offices of the I-T department.

The CBDT boss subsequently told the officers that deadlines set for the task should be scrupulously followed. As per the guidelines, grievances pending for more than a year have to be resolved by April 30 while those pending for more than two months were supposed to be addressed by June 7, 2015.

The CBDT, during the PRAGATI public grievance redressal initiative of the prime minister, has assured that it will address the issue before the prime minister’s next review. CBDT has also asked its officers to undertake special drives to reduce and remove the pendency of such cases.

“If need be, officers may be directed to conduct special drives to dispose of the public grievances pending with them so as to achieve the targets… Any breach of the time-line will be viewed seriously and accountability will be required to be fixed for such failure,” Kapur had told the officers.

I-T sources, citing latest records, said that close to one lakh grievance petitions, requests and complaints from taxpayers are pending with the department, with a majority of them related to delay in issuance of refunds, clarity on tax demands raised, etc.

Modi has taken up the PRAGATI programme in order to ensure better service delivery by government departments and distribution of benefits of welfare programmes to the common public.

He has decided to review these issues on the fourth Wednesday of every month by interacting with Union government secretaries and top state state government officials via video conferencing.

The next such review conference is expected to be held on May 27.