Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday asked the Income-Tax Department to “squeeze” the “parallel economy” in the country but in a “fair and not harsh” manner. In the same breath, he also assured honest taxpayers that they need not fear the new black money law.

The entire chain of tax officials involved in such efforts should maintain the highest standards of “ethics and integrity”, Jaitley said after inaugurating the 31st Annual Conference of Chief Commissioners and Directors-General of Income Tax here.

Steps should also be taken to increase the tax base and there is “sufficient scope” to do this, he said, adding that if the tax base increased and revenue collections happened, then the government’s ability to spend and give concessions to honest taxpayers will improve.

Acknowledging that he was conscious of the “limitations” in expanding the tax base, given that 55-60 per cent of the Indian population is reliant on agriculture, Jaitley said: “Your target base gets shrunk because of this (agriculture). But out of the rest, there is scope to increase the target base.”

Black money law Jaitley said the recently enacted black money law was aimed at those who had stashed unaccounted money abroad. “Only those who had defied the system in the past and those who intend to defy the compliance window to come clean have to worry,” he said.

He said that the government will take all steps to get the Benami Transactions Prohibition Bill enacted in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

On direct tax collections, he expressed confidence that the targeted 14-15 per cent growth for the current fiscal would be met. Last fiscal, direct tax collections recorded a 9 per cent growth.

Corporate ‘exemptions’ Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das asked the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to put together a “strategy paper” for eliminating tax exemptions provided to corporates.

The main reason for tax disputes between corporates and the Income-Tax Department is the issue of “exemptions”, he added.

Das also wanted senior tax officials to place equal emphasis on tackling domestic black money just as efforts are being taken to bring back unaccounted money stashed abroad.