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Computerisation will make life less taxing

BS Economy Bureau in New Delhi | July 09, 2003 17:39 IST

If life has become a little less taxing, thank the reform measures initiated by Finance Minister Jaswant Singh in tax administration.

Multibanking facility for paying central value-added tax, smart Permanent Account Number cards and computer-generated refund advice -- all this and more have been launched in the past one year.

But these measures are just the tip of the iceberg. The revenue department's most ambitious project -- the Tax Information Network -- is expected to be completed in two years.

The project, which has been outsourced to the National Securities Depository Ltd, will mean that each high-value transaction anywhere in the country will be tracked by a supercomputer.

To get an idea of the huge computerisation drive of the tax department, consider the numbers. A total of 10,287 tax returns were processed on computers in 1999-2000.

The figure at the end of March 31, 2003, was 17.93 million. As a result, the department has been able to pay out Rs 22,676 crore (Rs 226.76 billion) as refunds in 2002-03, compared to Rs 17,304 crore (Rs 173.04 billion) in 2001-02.

To ensure that the Tax Information Network is workable, the finance ministry has to ensure that all tax payers are identified through PAN.

That is what UTI Investor Services Ltd will ensure for the 34 million direct tax payers, a number which is expected to grow by 50 million annually.

Within this year, electronic filing of income tax returns will become a reality with banks taking over the job of receiving returns and networking with the tax department's computers.

The indirect tax department is also giving every industrial unit an identification and a service tax code number.

The Kelkar taskforce has set January 1, 2004, as the deadline for fully automating processes in all Customs and central excise commissionerates.

This is expected to reduce transaction costs by around Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) per annum by minimising the interface of the assesses with the department.

Another milestone will be the use of Electronic Data Interchange to produce online processing of returns, risk analysis, profiling and management.

The department has already introduced a green channel for self-assessment by exporters because it feels that the data analysing capability of the department has reached a level of sophistication to track short payment of dues.

Part I: Revenue dept to adopt foreign ministry model


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