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Stress on dignity of honest taxpayer is the biggest reform
Inaugurates Office-cum-Residential Complex of Cuttack Bench of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal

Jai Jagannath!

Odisha’s Chief Minister and our senior colleague Shri Naveen Patnaik ji, my colleague in central cabinet Ravi Shankar Prasad ji, the son of the land of Odisha and my colleague in the council of ministers Shri Dharmendra Pradhan ji, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal president Hon’ble Justice P.P. Bhatt ji, Odisha’s parliamentarians, legislators, and other friends present in the function,

With the blessing of Lord Jagannath, the Cuttack bench of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) is being shifted today to its new and modern complex. I can feel the pleasure of going to one’s own home after working in a rented accommodation for a long time from your happy faces. While being part of your moment of happiness, I congratulate and extend my best wishes to all the officers and employees of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. This bench of Cuttack will not only offer modern facilities to lakhs of taxpayers of Odisha, but the eastern and north-eastern India as well. This bench will also be able to dispose off the pending appeals of other benches of Kolkata zone after the new facilities. Therefore, many many best wishes to all those taxpayers who will benefit from this new complex, and which will also pave the way for early hearings.

Friends,

Today is also a day to remember a pious soul without whose efforts the Cuttack bench of the IT Appellate Tribunal could not take the present shape. I offer my tributes to Biju Patnaik Babu who remained committed to Odisha and to the service to its people.

Friends,

The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has a glorious history. I congratulate the present team which is engaged in creating its modern infrastructure across the country. I am told that your own complexes have already been prepared in Bengaluru and Jaipur before Cuttack. In other cities also, you are building new complexes or upgrading the old ones.

Friends,

The upgradation of the entire system is very important in the era of technology that we are reaching today. Modernity, more and more use of technology, especially in our judicial system, has paved the way for new convenience to the citizens of the country. The ideals of fair, accessible and quick justice that you have followed will be further empowered by modern facilities and technical solutions. It is a matter of satisfaction that the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has been upgrading its benches across the country for virtual hearing. And as Shri P.P. Bhatt said this huge task of virtual hearing happened during the corona period and Ravi Shankar ji was explaining details of the entire country.

Friends,

The long period of slavery developed the relationship between taxpayer and tax collector as the exploited and the exploiter. Unfortunately, not much effort was made to change this image in the tax regime that we had after independence, whereas, India has had very healthy traditions of tax importance and transactions since ancient times. Goswami Tulsidas has said:

बरसत हरसत सब लखें, करसत लखे न कोय

तुलसी प्रजा सुभाग से, भूप भानु सो होय’

 

This implies that when clouds rain, the benefit is visible to all of us. But when clouds are formed, the sun absorbs the water, but it does not inconvenience anyone. Similarly, governance should also be like that. The common man should not suffer while taxes are collected from him, but when the same money of the country reaches the citizens, people should feel its benefits in their lives. Over the years, the government has moved ahead with this vision.

साथियों,

Friends,

Today's taxpayer is witnessing huge changes and transparency in the entire tax regime. When he doesn't have to wait for months for refund, he gets refund in a few weeks, he experiences transparency. When he sees that the department itself has gone ahead and resolved the age-old dispute on its own, it has liberated it from the dispute, he experiences transparency. When he gets the facility of faceless appeal, he feels more about tax transparency. When he sees that the income tax is continuously decreasing, he experiences more tax transparency. There used to be complaints of tax terrorism during the time of earlier governments. The word tax terrorism used to be heard from everywhere. Today, the country is moving from tax terrorism to tax transparency. This change from tax terrorism to tax transparency has come because we are moving ahead with the approach of Reform, Perform and Transform. We are reforming the rules and procedures with the maximum help of technology. We are performing with a clear conscience and clear intentions and we are also transforming the mindset of tax administration.

Friends,

Today, there is zero tax on income up to Rs. 5 lakh in the country. Today, our youth of the lower middle class are getting its huge benefit. The new option of income tax given in the budget this year is very simple and it saves the taxpayer from unnecessary tension and expenses. Similarly, to speed up the pace of development and make India more investment friendly, a historic cut has been made in corporate tax. Corporate tax has been reduced for the companies which offer employment to lakhs of youths. The tax rate for new domestic manufacturing companies has been set at 15 percent for the country to become self-sufficient in manufacturing. The Dividend Distribution Tax has also been scrapped to increase investment in India's equity market. GST has also reduced the web of dozens of taxes and the tax rate in most goods and services has also come down.

Friends,

Till about 5-6 years ago, there was a situation where if the Income Tax Commissioner used to give relief up to Rs 3 lakh to the taxpayer, it used to be challenged in ITAT. Our government has increased this limit from Rs. 3 lakh to 50 lakhs. Similarly, only those cases go to the Supreme Court which concerns a tax appeal of at least Rs. 2 crore. These efforts have not only improved the ease of doing business, the burden of disputed cases on many institutions has also been reduced.

Friends,

The biggest reforms that have been made, along with tax reduction and ease of process, are linked to the dignity of honest taxpayers and protecting them from troubles. Today, India is among the few countries in the world where both the rights and duties of taxpayers have been codified, have been recognized legally. This has been a huge step to build trust and transparency between the taxpayer and the tax collector. A person who is putting in his labour, his sweat for the development of the country, and is giving employment to many countrymen, deserves respect. And I had mentioned about this with due respect from the Red Fort on August 15 that when the difficulties of the country's wealth creators are reduced, they get protection and then their trust grows in the country's systems. The result of this growing trust is that more and more friends are coming forward to join the tax system for the development of the country. I want to give you another example of how the government is relying on taxpayers.

Friends,

Earlier, the system was such that most of the people or businesses in the country had to face the scrutiny of the Income Tax department when they used to file income tax returns. But, it is not like that. The thought process in the government is to trust the income tax return completely at first after being filed. As a result of this, 99.75 percent of the returns filed in the country today are accepted without any objection. The scrutiny is done in only 0.25 percent cases. It is a big change which has come about in the country's tax system.

Friends,

The role of tribunals is very important in achieving the goals of tax reforms in the country. The way you have carried out your work by utilizing your virtual time, I am hopeful that you will also think about a faceless system and whether the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal can move towards a faceless system on the lines of faceless assessment and appeals. Can priority be given to e-hearing instead of physical hearing? If it has been done during the corona period, it can be extended in future.

Friends,

During this period of corona, we all have the experience that all things are being done in an equally transparent and effective manner through video conferencing. Today, when you're building campuses with modern amenities in Benches across the country, these reforms aren't difficult for you. It will save time, money and energy of taxpayers. The disputes will also be settled quickly.

Friends,

The scholars have said that -- न्यायमूलं सुराज्यं स्यात्, संघमूलं महाबलम् ॥

Justice is the core of good governance and the organization is the root of the extraordinary power. Therefore, continuous efforts are being made to energise the power of justice and the organization for a self-reliant India. This is the motivation behind a series of reforms happening in India. I am fully confident that all our efforts will succeed with our concerted efforts.

Once again, I congratulate all the friends associated with the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and the people of Odisha for this modern campus. Many best wishes to you for the upcoming festivals, including Diwali. I will say one thing for sure that we do not have to take corona lightly. I will specially request the people of Odisha to follow all those small precautions like wearing a mask, maintaining distance, washing hands with soap, etc. Odisha is a great land of art and culture. Today, the Vocal for Local mantra is buzzing. We should only try to buy only those products which have been made from the soil of India and are the result of the sweat and talent of the youth of our country. This I would like to say to Odisha and the countrymen from the land of Lord Jagannath that go Vocal for Local. Local products should not be bought only during Diwali. We would like that Diwali is celebrated 365 days and we keep on buying local products in all these 365 days. See, the economy of the country will start growing at a faster pace. The strength of the sweat of our great people can take the country to new heights. With this belief, my best wishes to all of you on this auspicious occasion.

Many many thanks!

ഇന്ത്യയുടെ ഒളിമ്പ്യൻ‌മാരെ പ്രചോദിപ്പിക്കുക! #Cheers4India
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PM announces ex-gratia from PMNRF for West Bengal flood victims
August 04, 2021
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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh to be given to the next of kin of those who lost their lives due to flooding in parts of West Bengal. He also announced Rs. 50,000 to those injured. 

A PMO tweet said, "An ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh each from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of those who lost their lives due to flooding in parts of West Bengal. The injured would be given Rs. 50,000."