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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Taxpayers Charter

24th Aug 2020

The institutional framework for the protection of taxpayer rights can be traced to the 1998 Citizen’s Charter, a first step towards the implementation of the Sevottam model.

  1. The Kelkar Task Force suggested methods to instill accountability in the functioning of the tax department via an ombudsman reporting to Parliament.
  2. But the Ombudsman framework proved to be an ineffective body, as it had no statutory basis.
  3. The Tax Administration Reform Commission in 2014 emphasized the need to revisit the citizen’s charter with a focus on taxpayers’ concerns, needs and priorities.

Need for the charter:

  • Non-statute driven citizens’ charter, with a remote degree of accountability on service standards, has proven to be ineffective in practice and is responsible for taxpayers’ woes.
  • India’s tax policy enforcement standards don’t meet global standards and the charter will help India meet global standards.
  • There is a need to improve on privacy and confidentiality, non-coercive measures for tax collection, cross-border procedures, administrative procedures and guidance, etc.
  • There is a need for attitudinal and organizational/structural change, including allocation of larger resources to taxpayer service than enforcement.

India’s charter needs:

  1. Presumption of honesty
  2. The taxpayer should be able to make submissions on an affidavit and disclose full information and fulfill its compliance obligations honestly.
  3. Every taxpayer should be considered honest unless there is reason to believe otherwise.
  4. Reduction of the cost of compliance
  5. Technology like Artificial Intelligence should be used to minimize the cost of compliance.
  6. Faceless assessment and appeals, a centralised procedure for group entities will reduce taxpayers’ dependence on multiple advisors.
  7. Assistance to taxpayer
  8. Every taxpayer should have access to timely online assistance and support.

b.The focus should be on individual taxpayers, firms, small and micro enterprises facing difficulties in meeting compliance obligations.

Redressal of grievances

a.The charter should ensure the redressal of all the taxpayer grievances on a priority basis.

b.The experience of retired bureaucrats can be sought for an unbiased approach.

  1. Enforcing tax collection due as per the law
  2. The approach of authorities making heavy tax demands and seeking to recover them coercively is criticized a lot.
  3. Such assessments have failed to stand judicial scrutiny and are often quoted as examples of tax terrorism.
  4. Confidentiality and privacy
  5. Confidentiality and privacy should be maintained at all costs. Care should be taken that the information is not leaked to third parties.
  6. If the approach of naming and shaming is to be adopted, it should be done on the order of a court.
  7. Mechanism for accountability
  8. The charter should provide for an annual report that assesses the performance of Revenue and charter cells.
  9. Periodic surveys for feedback, taxpayer’s experiences and suggestions to enhance accountability and increase compliance should be encouraged.

 

Article 371 G:

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Why in news?

 The Mizoram government has recently rejected the Centre’s proposal to amend the “anti-indigenous people” Indian Forest Act, 1927, as its provisions are in “conflict with the special provisions the State enjoys under Article 371G of the Constitution”.

 Why it was rejected?

  • Forest rights activists and tribal welfare organisations are against the bill that seeks to give higher management powers beyond what is provided in the Forest Rights Act of 2006, threatens to evict forest dwellers and promotes forest produce through private firms.
  • A reframed Indian Forest Act can challenge Mizo customary laws and practices, ownership and transfer of land as well as the powers conferred upon the autonomous district councils.

 About the Indian Forest Act, 1927:

  • This Act recognizes forest dwellers’ rights and makes conservation more accountable.
  • The law recognises three types of rights:
  • Land Rights: Land rights are given to people, who have been cultivating land prior to December, 13, 2005.
  • Use Rights: The law provides for rights to use and/or collect the minor forest produce things like tendu patta, herbs, medicinal plants etc “that has been traditionally collected, use of grazing grounds and water bodies and use of traditional areas by nomadic or pastoralist communities i.e. communities that move with their herds, as opposed to practicing settled agriculture.
  • Right to Protect and Conserve: The law gives rights to protect and manage the forests to people of village communities.

About the Article 371(G) of the Constitution :

It states that the Parliament cannot decide on the matters of the religious and social practices of the Mizos, civil and criminal law of the land, land ownership transfer, and customary law procedure without the consent of the Assembly.

 As per the Swachh Survekshan 2020 survey results, Indore in Madhya Pradesh retained its position as the cleanest city in India for the fourth consecutive year.

Major Highlights:

  • This is the fifth edition of the surveywhich was introduced by PM Modi in January 2016.
  • The survey was held by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • The survey of sanitation in over 4,000 citieswas carried out earlier this year over 28 days.
  • A total of 1.9 crore citizens across 4,242 cities of the country participated in the survey.

Rankings:

  • Among large cities having population of more than 1 lakh:
  • 1st: Indore, Madhya Pradesh
  • 2nd: Surat, Gujarat
  • 3rd: Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Among smaller cities, with population under 1 lakh

Top three cities – Karad, Sasvad and Lonavala (all from Maharashtra).

  • Varanasi: the best Ganga town.
  • Chhattisgarhwas ranked the cleanest State out of those with over 100 cities.
  • Jharkhand was the cleanest among those with less than 100 urban local bodies (ULBs) or cities

About Swachh Survekshan:

  • The Swachh Survekshan is conducted to study the progress of Swachh Bharat Mission(Urban) and rank cities based on cleanliness and sanitation parameters.
  • Four parameterswere used for arriving at the overall ranking of a city – certifications (1,500), direct observation (1,500), service level progress (1,500) and citizen feedback (1,500).

 

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