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Taxpayer Charter: A roadmap for mutual trust and respect

Taxpayer Charter: A roadmap for mutual trust and respect

Last week, the PM unveiled the Taxpayers Charter, a two-way document containing 14-point obligations of the revenue and 6-point duties of the taxpayer. While the analysis of each is yet to be translated into actionable goals, the announcement is an outcome of the amendment in the Finance Act of 2020. The building blocks for a statutory adoption of the taxpayer charter is predicated on nation-building through progressive tax policy and honouring the honest taxpayers.

The institutional framework for the protection of taxpayer rights can be traced to the 1998 Citizen’s Charter, a first step towards the implementation of Sevottam (Service excellence—a combination of two Hindi words: seva and uttam). With continuous improvements, the charter was revised multiple times. The Kelkar Task Force in 2002 suggested methods to instil accountability in the functioning of the tax department, via an ombudsman reporting to Parliament. However, the Ombudsman framework introduced by way of administrative guidance with no statutory basis proved to be an ineffective body

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