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24 October, 2013

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Tax Administrative Reform Commission Announced

A government panel, set up to overhaul the country’s tax policies and laws, had its first meeting on Monday and promised to set about recommending structural changes in tax administration and creating an even more conducive environment for voluntary compliance.

The tax administrative reform commission (TARC) was announced by finance minister P Chidambaram in his FY14 Budget speech, in the backdrop of the controversy surrounding laws like general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR) last year and to avoid costly litigation against the government, especially after Vodafone dragged the government to court, regarding a $2-billion tax case.
At a press conference in the finance ministry, TARC chairman and advisor to Chidambaram, Parthasarathi Shome, said that the main aim of the panel will be to suggest ways to better enforce tax compliance and to increase the base of taxpayers. The panel will also look at bringing changes withing the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in terms of workforce deployment, hirings, performance assessment, etc.
“The whole idea is to look at it in a structural sense, to reduce litigation if possible, to try and make disputes less long, to make assessments more open, to computerise the whole process in a manner, that it is taxpayer-friendly,” Shome said. The committee will also look at enabling better communication and flow of information among various departments like CBEC, CBDT, Central Economic Intelligence Unit (CEIB), Enforcement Directorate (ED), among others.
The panel also comprises former chief financial officer, TCS, S Mahalingam, former CDBT chairman SSN Moorthy and former CBEC chairman MK Zutshi, among others.
The panel, which has a tenure of 18 months, will present its first report to Chidambaram within the next six months, and will then submit reports on specific tax reforms every three months, Shome said.