CBEC is shedding its adversarial image, says survey

New Delhi: A CBEC-commissioned survey has found a majority 72 per cent believing that the indirect tax wing of the government is becoming “liberal and friendly” to taxpayers, but “much needs to be done” for it to be seen as “less adversarial”.

CBEC Chairman Najib Shah
CBEC Chairman Najib Shah

“In the wake of widespread allegations of tax terrorism, which has most often been cited as a barrier to entry of foreign investment in manufacturing, the survey sought an opinion on whether the CBEC administration was becoming less adversarial.

“32 per cent of the respondents answered in the affirmative, which is indicative of an improving trend but does show that much needs to be done,” the Finance Ministry today said while announcing results of the survey.

However, it did not disclose the response of the remaining 68 per cent respondents to this question.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had asked industry body FICCI to conduct a tax payers’ survey to get a feedback on ground-level impact of reforms undertaken over the last two years. FICCI outsourced the survey to KPMG and they jointly reached out to 40,000-45,000 respondents across India.

According to the survey, 45 per cent respondents saw an “attitudinal change” in senior functionaries (Commissioner and above) and 51 per cent noted improvement at the level of inspectors and above.

“This should come as a heartening news for India Inc as it is the inspector raj which is considered as the most stubborn stumbling block to improving the tax environment,” the ministry said.

The ministry further listed implementation of the Customs single-window project on April 1, 2016, as the most outstanding achievement of CBEC.

The survey put out a key question — Do you feel a perceptible change in policies of the CBEC by way of becoming liberal and friendly to the taxpayer? To this, 72 per cent said ‘yes’.

Responses on sectoral reforms, including refunds, too got a thumbs-up, the ministry said.

Many took note of reforms in transfer pricing in Customs where 89 per cent indicated improvements. Ninety-two per cent of the respondents have acknowledged CBEC’s success in simplification of Customs and excise business processes.

“The fact that a tax department had the gumption to ask such a question and the taxpayers having actually acknowledged positively is a harbinger of increasing maturity of the regulatory ecosystem of India,” the ministry said.