Income tax (I-T) officers and employees associations have jointly sought extension of current financial year 2019-20 by a month to April 30, and also closure of all their offices till the end of this month, to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
In a letter to the chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the two associations suggest an ordinance be issued to extend the financial year, “which will be welcomed by one and all in the country”.
“To ensure safety and wellbeing of (department) employees, you are requested to consider the option of directing the closure of income tax offices across the country till March 31 or any other date as deemed fit, especially as our department is not providing any essential services as far as the health emergency is concerned”. Signed by a 'Joint Council of Action', representing the Income Tax Employees Federation and Income Tax Gazetted Officers’ Association.
The associations say at least 95 per cent of their members commute via public transport and “government advisories are suggesting to avoid public transport as far as possible”. Besides, as it is a public-dealing department, it is not possible for employees to maintain “social distancing” while in office.
The CBDT is struggling to meet a tough collection target for the year. If this is to met, collection will need to grow by 20 per cent in the February-March period. In fact, the final instalment of 25 per cent advance tax needs to be paid by March 31. More, the new direct tax dispute resolution scheme, Vivad se Vishwas, also got notified on Tuesday, with March 31 being a key deadline for payments by declarants. After March 31, an additional 10 per cent needs to be paid till the scheme’s closure on June 30.
The staffers’ letter requests CBDT chairman P C Mody to direct principal chief commissioners of all regions to extend support to employees and offices in terms of supplying sanitizer, soap, thermal scanners at entry points, among other things.