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December 27, 2020

Is it PUNISHING the HONEST or “Honouring the Honest Taxpayer”?

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in Income Tax

Is it PUNISHING the HONEST or “Honouring the Honest Taxpayer”?

Our government aims at Transparent Taxation – Honouring the Honest taxpayers. Why is this so impossible, so full of sarcasm one feels in a country like ours? Dear Readers, let me list down to you the various reasons why the same feels a sham.  

  • An honest tax paying citizen was under house arrest for reasons the world knows best being COVID-19, for approximately 3 months. Post that various states have in their own manner imposed various restrictions on movement of people. Metros trains and buses all opened in a staggered manner. Such is the state that its already end of December and the lifeline of Mumbai; its local trains are still not functional. Still taxpayer is expected to be honest and compliant;
  • An individual taxpayer, when trying to fill his return of income inspite of various shortcomings due to above, faces numerous issues due to schema as the same keeps changing time and again  Note the latest schema was updated on 10th December 2020. Such is the state of technology. Still taxpayer is expected to be honest and compliant;
  • All due dates of government officers be VAT assessments, income tax assessments, transfer pricing assessments were immediately extended to 31st March 2021 without a single representation by a living soul.
  • 50 plus representations from across the country by various professionals, lawyers, Chartered Accountants, Company Secretaries, Cost Accountants,  GST professionals and other tax professionals for extension of due dates; but all unheard upto 27th December 2020.

Is this Honesty or Transparency ?

The bureaucratic officers are not able to complete assessments, inspite of the fact that they had 24 months from the end of due date and much more. But still additional 3-6 months are granted to them without any requests.  At the same time the Honest taxpayer has to represent and request for extension when it is his right too. Else he is the one to be penalized for various non-compliances.

There is extension for assessment dates, however summons and penalty initiation notices are being sent to taxpayers for no fault of theirs. An assessing officer sends notice on Friday evening at 6 pm for 30 plus details to be compiled and submitted to his office in 2 days time i.e on Monday 10 am. Godforbid should the assesse be unable to do so, on Monday evening there is penalty notice already sent out to him.

We would like to bring to your notice that this is the kind of menace being created by tax officers in today’s date. You can easily verify these facts based on the present e-assessment system. When has the officer requested for details and timeline for compliances?  When was the penalty initiation notice sent out to the assesse? If the officer expects the assesse to work his entire weekend, why is the tax officer not doing the same? The official working hours for government offices should be 7 days a week; if the same is expected from the assesse too.

Dear Finance Minister, do you think the public is not watching your practices? These are the same people who can help you stir the economy should you assist them in their time of need. To extend the due dates or not is the secondary issue. The primary being acknowledging the fact that representations in such large numbers are received and communicating to public at large, whether you are considering extension or not ? The basic need in such tough times is the right communication.

Various social media platforms are posting and its trending as #FM missing#, #Extension of due dates#…, however there is no acknowledgement of the same from your office . Should you wish to extend the due dates what stops you from doing the same a week or 10 days in advance.  Why WAIT ??

Given the tough times of COVID-19, with new strains of COVID being detected, suspension of flights and danger to the human life, extension of compliances is a very small and humble request from this taxpayer.

No representations are being made requesting you to offer additional Stimulus packages. The countries in USA and Europe are granting additional stimulus to boost their economies at regular intervals. No such requests are being made by the taxpayers.

It is a well said quote by the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi “Practice before you preach”. If you preach that a taxpayer should honestly pay his taxes, then show the same honesty as well. If government timelines are extended without asking for it, then the taxpayers of the nations need not ask or request for the same either.

We wish to see the transparency in each of your doing.  

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