Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday launched the platform for “Transparent Taxation – Honoring the Honest” via video conferencing.

The platform, which has been launched to honour the honest taxpayers of the country, will bring transparency in income tax systems and empowering taxpayers, according to the government.

In a tweet earlier in the day, PM Modi said the initiative will strengthen the Government’s efforts of reforming and simplifying the tax system and will benefit several honest taxpayers, whose hard work powers national progress.

The newly launched platform will offer faceless assessments, faceless appeal and taxpayers’ charter. Faceless appeal will be applicable from September 25, while faceless assessment and taxpayers’ charter will come into force from the very day of launch i.e. August 13.

Speaking at the launch event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “This platform has big reforms such as faceless assessment, faceless appeal, and taxpayers’ charter. Faceless assessment and taxpayers’ charter come into force from today, whereas faceless appeal service will be available from September 25”.

“There was a time when there used to be a lot of talk about reforms. Sometimes, decisions were taken out of compulsion or pressure and were called reforms. Due to this, the desired results could not be achieved. Now this thinking and approach, both have changed,” he said.

The PM said the emphasis is on making every rule, law and policy people-centric and public-friendly.

He added that his government’s effort is to make the tax system “seamless, painless and faceless”.

The Prime Minister also termed the taxpayers’ charter as a “big step in the country’s development journey”.

Speaking of the achievements of his government which has been in power since the past six years, PM Modi said, “India has witnessed the evolution of a new governance model in tax administration. We have decreased complexity, taxes, litigation, and increased transparency, tax compliance, and trust on the taxpayer”.

In 2012-13, 0.94 per cent of all tax returns were scrutinised, said PM Modi, but in 2018-19, this figure came down to 0.26 per cent. “This means, case scrutiny has reduced about four times,” he added.

The event was witnessed by various Chambers of Commerce, Trade Associations, Chartered Accountants’ associations and also eminent taxpayers, apart from the officers and officials of the Income Tax Department.

Earlier, at the launch of platform for “Transparent Taxation–Honoring the Honest”, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman said PM Modi’s vision is to empower the taxpayer, to provide a transparent system and to honour honest taxpayers. To realise this vision, the CBDT has given a framework and put in place this system, she said.

In a tweet, Sitharaman said, “Truly, this shall mark an important step forward in providing a simple and transparent taxation regime for India”.

“Wealth creators will be respected in this country,” Nirmala Sitharaman had said in her 2020-21 Budget speech.

The government has undertaken various tax reforms during the last six years.

The focus of the tax reforms has been on reduction in tax rates and on simplification of direct tax laws. Several initiatives have been taken by the CBDT for bringing in efficiency and transparency in the functioning of the IT Department. This includes bringing more transparency in official communication through the newly introduced Document Identification Number (DIN) wherein every communication of the Department would carry a computer generated unique document identification number.

Similarly, to increase the ease of compliance for taxpayers, the IT Department has moved forward with prefiling of income tax returns to make compliance more convenient for individual taxpayers. Compliance norms for startups have also been simplified.

With a view to providing for the resolution of pending tax disputes, the IT Department also brought out the Direct Tax “Vivad se Vishwas Act, 2020” under which declarations for settling disputes are being filed currently.

To effectively reduce taxpayer grievances/litigation, the monetary thresholds for filing of departmental appeals in various appellate courts have been raised. Several measures have been taken to promote digital transactions and electronic modes of payment.