GST rates can be reduced further once tax base increases: Finance Secretary

GST rates can be reduced further once the tax base increases and everyone pays taxes properly, Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said on Thursday.

"Once the tax base increases and if we are able to enforce our tax laws and everyone pays taxes properly, there will be definitely scope for further reduction of taxes," he said.

Addressing a session on 'Digitisation in Governance' at CAPAM 2020, he said the ultimate aim should be to collect minimum taxes at minimum rates.

"The government should collect taxes which are absolutely necessary and to that extent, we need to increase our tax base," he said.

Pandey said the government is also working on reducing the number of forms under the GST. He said that there were 495 forms in the pre-GST era with 17 different taxes which were levied by various states. "After the introduction of GST, the number of forms have reduced to 17-18 and we want to further cut down the number of forms in GST," he added.

 

 

He said that with IT-enabled platforms there is no inspector raj now and GST regime has become faceless.

Elaborating on the new measures for income tax assessment, including the faceless assessment of taxpayers, he said that the government is working on promoting self-compliance.

He added that the government is also working on providing tax profile of each taxpayer.

"We have all the information and if it can be shared in a secure manner, protecting the privacy of the individual, this will also help in securing loans from banks. The entire digital exercise is being undertaken across various government departments. We are making all that information available and providing it to each taxpayer," Pandey said.

He also said that all the information is getting integrated for the benefit of the citizens, including ease of doing business, ease of living and is enhancing capabilities.

Stressing on the importance of digitisation, Pandey said that India is the only country to have Aadhaar, Aadhaar-enabled payment system, direct benefit transfer scheme and UPI payment scheme. "Use of digitisation in governance has improved our speed, effectiveness, efficiency and capabilities," he added.

He noted that in the last three months, Aadhaar-enabled transaction have crossed Rs 50,000 crore and UPI transaction has taken over debit card transaction and cash withdrawals.

Referring to the revenue trend, he said all figures are giving an encouraging signal that the economy is coming back on track sooner than what was being anticipated when the lockdown started.

Source::: Business Standard,  dated 24/07/2020.