Tax dept asks officers working from home to chase large taxpayers for dues

PTI

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The message came within days of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announcing three months extension for filing of income tax returns

Tax officers working from home in view of the lockdown. (Photo- PTI)

New Delhi: A three-month extension in deadlines for tax payment and filing of returns notwithstanding, the Income-Tax Department has asked field formations to contact large taxpayers over phone or email to follow up on pending collections.

Rakesh Gupta, Commissioner of Income Tax (Coordination & Systems), Central Board of Direct Tax (CBDT), last week asked field formations to submit a daily report on follow-ups on pending tax collections from large taxpayers.

While most tax officers working from home in view of the lockdown announced to check the spread of Covid-19, it is possible to continue working in today's connected world, the message to officials said.

"While the ITBA (Income Tax Business Application) platform is not available to the officers for discharging statutory functions, it is still possible to follow up the pending collection matters by contacting large taxpayers telephonically/electronically," Gupta wrote.

The message came within days of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announcing three months extension in the deadline for filing of income tax returns as well as payment of delayed advanced tax, self-assessment tax, regular tax, tax deducted at source, tax collected source, and securities transaction tax.

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The directive from CIT (C&S) has not gone down well with officers with their association writing to CBDT Chairman against it.

"The people's backlash in the wake of such pressures to pay taxes in the present scenario is very much evident," the convenor Ravi Shankar wrote.

The association said it was not possible for assessing officers (AOs) to furnish a daily report for daily collection of current/arrear demand or applications received under the Vivad se Vishvash Scheme as the contact information of assessees/defaulters was not available at homes of the officers.Also, the officers did not have access to the ITBA platform.

The Finance Minister had on March 24 announced an extension in last for filing income tax returns for 2018-19 fiscal to June 30 as well as linking of income tax PAN with biometric ID Aadhaar by a similar three months.

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