|An analysis: Sayta Prasanth|
1) Immediately upgrade the CBDT to the status of a department in the government of India. Rename it as the “Department of Direct Taxes”. Make its chairman and members ex-officio secretary to the Government of India (unlike the present status of ex-officio special secretary). Mind it, this was recommended by the Wanchoo Committee (1971) and the Raja Chelliah Committee (1991). The same structure should be replicated for the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) too. After all, IFS officers are headed by foreign secretary who invariably is an IFS officer, and Indian Postal Service (IPoS) is headed by the secretary (posts) who is again from the IPoS. Only a railway officer can become Railway Board chairman. So, where is the logic that highly specialist IRS should function under a generalist IAS officer?
2) Create a number of secretary level posts for top IRS officers. Currently, only chairmen and members of CBDT get salaries of a secretary of Government of India, but they are ranked at the level of special secretaries. Compare these with other cadres. The IAS with cadre strength of around 4,377 officers has about 170 posts at the level of secretary to the Government of India. The IFS with 618 officers has 26 secretary-level posts. And the IPS with cadre strength of 3,475 officers has its officers occupying around 50 posts in the apex scale. The Income-Tax Department in its Cadre Restructuring Committee (CRC) report (2009) proposed the creation of 42 posts in the apex scale. Even the Sixth Central Pay Commission noticed the anomalies. In its Para - 3.3.35 of the report, it said: “Despite the large cadre strength, the service does not have a single Secretary level post encadred in the service. This is clearly anomalous especially because this service is performing the important function of revenue collection. The Commission is aware that as a general policy, no recommendation regarding restructuring of individual cadres is being made. However, considering the fact that other group ‘A’ services with less than 1/10th the strength of Indian Revenue Service have more Secretary level posts, Government will have to seriously examine the issue and resolve the legitimate aspirations of the service.”
3) Increase the staff strength of the Indian Revenue Service. After all, the number of taxpayers has gone up from 2.5 crore in the year 2000 to around 3.5 crore by 2012. But the sanctioned strength of the I-T department remained at 57,793 since 2001. Create a separate Recruitment Board for the purpose of recruitment at the levels of Inspector and Tax Assistant on the lines of the Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs), Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB) etc.
4) Do a massive up-gradation of the department’s infrastructure if the government wants to get better results. Look at the current gigantic task of the taxmen. Each Assessing Officer is supposed to scrutinize about 20,000 tax cases of individuals or oversee the accounts of not less than 1,000 companies per year. But an assessing officer is not provided with any vehicle or security to conduct surveys and recoveries. As they are vulnerable to threats, Assessing Officers tend to function mostly from their offices. Are one or two surveys carried out by each Assessing Officer in a year good enough?
5) The friction between the Direct Recruits (DRs) and Promotees (PRs) in the Income Tax Department needs to be done away with. It should not be a case of ‘we against us’. The post of the ‘Income Tax Officer (ITO)’ should be re-designated as ‘Senior Inspector’ and made subordinate to an Assistant Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner. This mere change in nomenclature will make sense as all the officers of the Income Tax Department from an Inspector to a Chief Commissioner are generally referred to as ‘Income Tax Officers’ by the general public. After all, the faulty organizational set-up of the I-T department has given rise to unionism among the subordinate employees who often resort to frequent strikes. The IRS Recruitment Rules need to be immediately amended to rectify all the flaws in the organizational setup of the Income Tax Department.
BoI subscribes to these views, as a robust revenue department is a must for the good health of the nation. In Kosha Moola Dandah theory of Chanakya of Arthashastra fame, the underlying message was loud and clear: The treasury and its collections are the sources of a government’s might.