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Revamp of I-T dept services mooted

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, Dec. 27

IT is a major extension of the `File, Smile and Go' slogan coined by the Income-Tax Department.

One of the first items that the Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, had placed high on his agenda on taking over earlier this year was the simplification of the tax administration system. And the Kelkar Committee has obliged him with its recommendations for a modern tax administration.

In short, if the Government were to implement the recommendations of the Committee, physical visits by the tax payers to the IT man may become passe.

On the cards are filing of tax returns on the Net, similar to the model used for the securities market by the National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL), computerised refunds for tax payers by a designated bank, thus cutting down on prolonged delay of refunds and doing away with the discretion- based system of selection of returns.

In the Kelkar Committee's view, the tax department should be allowed to concentrate on its core-functions — an increasing emphasis on assessment and enforcement duties, rather than logistics and support services — which would lead to the increased effectiveness of the tax administration.

In this context, rapid and progressive outsourcing of many tasks of the tax department is not only feasible, given the IT talent in the country, but also desirable, the committee has said. The outsourcing of data entry work could help the income tax department clear the backlog of returns by the end of February 2003. The committee also wants all returns to be processed within four months of receipt.

The committee wants the Permanent Account Number (PAN) to be extended to cover all citizens and to serve as an identification number and for the Government to establish a national Tax Information Network (TIN) that could offer ease of access across tax administrators and tax payers.

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