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Indian Budget 2010-11- Full Text- February 26, 2010


117. While formulating them, I have been guided by the principles of sound tax administration as embodied in the following words of Kautilya:

"Thus, a wise Collector General shall conduct the work of revenue collection.... in a manner that production and consumption should not be injuriously affected.... financial prosperity depends on public prosperity, abundance of harvest and prosperity of commerce among other things."

118. I had stated last year that tax reform is a process and not an event. The process I had outlined in the area of direct taxes was to release a draft Direct Taxes Code along with a Discussion Paper. In the area of indirect taxes, the reform initiative was the introduction of a Goods and Services Tax. I have presented the developments in both reform initiatives in Part 'A' of my Speech.

119. We have continued on the path of computerisation in core areas of service delivery in the administration of direct taxes. This will reduce the physical interface between taxpayers and tax administration and speed up procedures and processes. The Centralised Processing Centre at Bengaluru is now fully functional and is processing around 20,000 returns daily. This initiative will be taken forward by setting up two more Centres during the year.

120. As a part of Government's initiative to move towards citizen centric governance, the income tax department has introduced "Sevottam", a pilot project at Pune, Kochi and Chandigarh through Aayakar Seva Kendras. These provide a single window system for registration of all applications including those for redressal of grievances as well as paper returns. This year the scheme will be extended to four more cities.

121. To achieve the roll-out of GST by April 2011, the indirect tax administrations at the Centre and the States need to revamp their internal work processes based on the use of Information Technology. I am happy to inform Honorable Members that project ACES - Automation of Central Excise & Service Tax, has already been rolled out throughout the country this year. This will impart greater transparency in tax administration and improve the delivery of taxpayer services. Similarly, a Mission Mode Project for computerisation of Commercial Taxes in States has been approved recently. With an outlay of Rs.1133 crore of which the Centre's share is Rs.800 crore, the project will lay the foundation for the launch of GST.

122. I mentioned last year, that the income tax return forms should be simple and user friendly. The income tax department is now ready to notify SARAL-II form for individual salaried taxpayers for the coming assessment year. This form will enable individuals to enter relevant details in a simple format in only two pages.

123. To expeditiously resolve disputes with taxpayers I propose to expand the scope of cases which may be admitted by the Settlement Commission to include proceedings related to search and seizure cases pending for assessment. I also propose to expand the scope of Settlement Commission in respect of Central Excise and Customs so that certain categories of cases that hitherto fell outside its jurisdiction may be admitted.

124. Last year, amendments to the statute enabled Government to enter into tax treaties with specified territories besides sovereign states. We have commenced bi-lateral discussions to enhance the exchange of bank related and other information to effectively track tax evasion and identify undisclosed assets of resident Indians lying abroad.

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