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Mass transfers demoralise taxmen

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NEW DELHI, June 28

WITH the mass transfer of 77 Commissioners of Income-Tax (CIT) ordered late on Tuesday last and almost an equal number set to be dislocated within the next few days, taxmen throughout the country are a demoralised lot today.

Almost like a parting shot just a week before the Cabinet reshuffle, the Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, approved the transfer of as many as 77 I-T commissioners based at the four metros and smaller cities. And to find their replacements, another list of 70 is expected to be released within a day or two.

The transfers, delayed by a few months this year, are not unusual, say sources in the I-T Department. What is unusual this time is the fact that along with those who have completed their tenure at a certain location, the so-called "non-performers" have also been added on to the list. In some cases, especially those on transfer from Mumbai, the commissioners have completed just about a year. Little wonder then, that the morale of the taxmen has hit a new low, say sources.

Non-performance, argue some taxmen, wishing not to be identified, cannot be equated or measured when you have palpably unrealistic tax collection targets set before them. Direct tax collections have been much lower than targeted during the year 2001-02, the shortfall being in the region of about Rs 6,000 crore. How can one expect collections in accordance with ambitious targets when the economy was in a recession and most businesses had their profits halved, they ask. For Delhi region, the situation was rather queer. Under a restructuring of the zones carried out some time back, the companies and corporations were segregated into certain zones irrespective of their geographic location. However, when tax collection targets were set for each zone, it was over and above the realisations in the previous year. With the benchmark itself being higher, the targets were unrealisable from day one.

Thus while some zones gained - in view of the additional collections from corporations - as if like a bonus, the others were rendered dry. However, the transfer order shows that while the commissioners who have corporate collections in their jurisdiction have not been disturbed, almost all the others have been transferred out of Delhi.

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