In order to make the department more taxpayer friendly, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has decided to install cheque deposit machines at Ayakar Seva Kendras (ASKs) and launch a modified website to assist assesses to ascertain their tax liability.
As per the road map prepared by the CBDT, the tax department will roll out several such initiatives, including expeditious refund in case the mismatch in Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) filing is up to Rs 1 lakh, over 3-4 months.
Also, it is planning to increase the number of tax return preparers (TRP) to 50,000, from the current 5,000, and add 65 more ASKs this fiscal.
"We have planned for upgradation of ASKs over the next 3-4 months. It is proposed to introduce automatic cheque deposit machine to facilitate the tax payers by providing them banking facilities," a revenue department official told PTI, explaining the rationale behind the move.
The ASKs are single-window touchpoints for all communications and help taxpayers interact with officers for queries relating to income tax, including, permanent account number (PAN), filing tax returns or refunds.
"Currently, there are 297 ASKs in the country. This year, we will add 65 more to the 297 and they are all being upgraded as per the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to provide quality service," the official said.
Besides, as part of further streamlining of taxpayer services, the department will start issuing refunds even if there are mismatches of up to Rs 1 lakh.
As part of the facilitation drive, the department has already started sending SMS alerts to as many as 2.5 crore salaried taxpayers informing them of their quarterly TDS deductions. It also plans to extend this SMS facility to another 4.4 crore non-salaried taxpayers.
There is more as the official said the department plans to launch a taxpayer friendly website with specific tools and apps to assist them in tax computation.
"We would soon launch an opinion survey of taxpayers covering all regions in India on how to improve our services, review our operation and also identify focus areas for future," the official added.
The tax department's drive comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurance to taxpayers that he will remove the fear of the taxman hounding them.
"Middle class, upper middle class used to be hassled with I-T officers, more than the police. I have to change this, I am working on it and will make the change happen," Modi had said in his Independence Day address to the nation.
The department is also planning to expand the Tax Return Preparer Scheme, under which TRPs are appointed and trained by the I-T department to assist assesses to file ITRs.
"Right now, there 5,000 active TRPs and we propose to expand it to 50,000 and they will be empanelled district-wise all over the country. This will enhance skill development and employment generation," the official said further.
Besides, the revenue department is exploring the option if these trained TRPs can be used for return filing under the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, which is likely to kick in from April next year.