Income-tax arrears against assessees — of Rs 2,01,276 crore as on March 31, 2009 — have once again become an issue, as Parliament’s standing committee on finance has asked the Department of Revenue and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to put in place a Management Information System (MIS) within three months for collating and retrieving data concerning appeals, pendency disposal and recovery.

The committee wants the revenue department and CBDT to analyse and segregate this into different categories, depending on the issue/problem involved, so that respective cases can be pursued and followed up for early results.

The committee, in its report to Parliament last week, criticised the Income Tax Department’s present monitoring of the pendency and disposal of cases, in the absence of centralised data. The committee, while strongly deprecating the department for neglecting such a crucial area of their functioning, recommended that in keeping with the principles of ‘good governance’, information should be available easily for decision making, almost on ‘push of a button’.

The Department had said the exact number of assessees was not centrally maintained and it would not be viable to collect case-wise information on the arrears and recovery thereof.

It also informed that out of Rs 2,01,276 crore, only Rs 13,701 crore was free of problem and collectable. The balance was difficult to recover, due to various reasons. Further, the amount outstanding for adjudication by the Department before the commissioner of income tax (appeals) was also a huge Rs 49,388 crore as on March 31, 2009.

The committee was displeased at this huge pile of cases pending for adjudication with the appeals commissioner, the first appellate level in the Department. This is despite the disposal showing an improvement of 12 per cent.

The committee asked the I-T department to look into this matter and ensure prompt administrative measures are initiated to clear the backlog and expedite adjudication of tax cases.

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Tags : CBDT (696) Income tax department (263) tax arrears (8)

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