Why the Vivad se Vishwas scheme has left I-T officers with much vivad and little vishwas

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on February 16, 2020 Published on February 17, 2020

Being told to work on weekends and holidays has not gone down well

The Centre’s Vivad se Vishwas dispute resolution scheme for income-tax cases has created its own set of vivads (disputes) in the I-T Department, leaving no space for vishwas (faith).

The Modi government has set a mega target of collecting ₹2-lakh crore through the scheme by March 31. It is seen as a last-ditch effort to increase tax revenues before the end of the fiscal.

Employee associations have begun to protest against recent orders by senior commissioners directing officers to work on weekends to complete the task of extracting revenue from pending tax disputes.

In Mumbai, the country’s largest revenue circle, the I-T Employees Federation has put up notices directing its members to work only from Monday to Friday and not put in extra hours.

Double whammy

An I-T officer and member of the Income-Tax Gazetted Officers Association (ITGOA) told BusinessLine the setting of revenue targets for disputed cases, and linking revenue collection from these cases to the annual performance review, will cause huge psychological stress on the officers. They will now be saddled with the dual task of processing regular cases and the long-pending disputes, the officer said.

To tackle an increased workload, the officers will either have to stay back on weekdays or work on weekends and holidays. Also, the scheme will demand top-notch tech infrastructure. The existing system is slow and often stalls due to heavy usage, the officer said.

The officer further pointed out that in the past, similar tax settlement and amnesty schemes were launched by the Central Board of Direct Taxes but the onus of getting a resolution was on the taxpayers. In the new scheme, though, the responsibility falls on officers.

An internal message among ITGOA members said that there is no law in India that permits the employer to force an employee to work beyond the prescribed hours unless he/she is paid adequate compensation.

Any order compelling officers to report for duty on holidays is neither justified nor supported by any government rules, it added.

The officer said that under the scheme, taxpayers who have wilfully escaped taxes using penny stocks and demonetisation are likely to come forward for a one-time settlement with the I-T Department. However, the officer added, assessees who believe they have been unfairly harassed with taxes, especially from the corporate sector, are not likely to use the scheme — they would rather wait for the outcome of the cases in courts.

Published on February 17, 2020
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