FM Sitharaman criticizes CBDT and CBIC for not addressing tax collectors’ complaints

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman lashed out at tax authorities on Monday for allegedly failing to respond to complaints from tax beneficiaries, directing their officials to set aside Saturdays for meetings with them.

During the budget outreach program among officials from Ministry of Finance, Industry and Trade Associations in Bengaluru, Karnataka Bank General Manager and Chief Financial Officer Muralidhar Krishna Rao asked a question for clarity on certain provisions of the GST Law and the direct tax deductions receive the banking sector.

Before officers even responded, Ms. Sitharaman intervened and brought in officers from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC).

“I’m very curious to know if CBIC and CBDT are here. Are you all dealing with your own auditors? The questions that are being asked here are not the questions that I would like the Treasury Secretary to sit here and explain. These are for the bodies you need to have with your assesses,” she said.

“I would now tell the CBDT and the CBIC to please keep your Saturdays free and get in touch with the examinees and give them any explanations they need,” she added.

Ms. Sitharaman instructed the boards to tell tax collectors where the disruptions were; and if a change in policy was needed, or if something needed to be changed in the Treasury Code, they could propose it to the Treasury Department and Treasury Ministers.

They felt that most of the questions asked during the budget interactive session related to the two bodies that they had full authority to deal with.

“It (the questions) just tells me, and I’m sorry to have to comment on the boards – are you all sitting in your office and don’t even have access to your assesses? What’s happening? You don’t expect the receipts that the secretary will talk to the assesses about things that you can sit in your hands and explain with all your might? Did I miss the situation?” Ms. Sitharaman said.

She urged the panels to do better, reiterating that they must reserve their Saturdays for the Assesses.

“You have to be here every Saturday. Keep yourself open and also on the phone and in the emails. Many of the questions here that Tarun Bajaj (Revenue Secretary) has taken the trouble to answer, I would like you (CBDT and CBIC) to answer them personally to the Assesses,” the finance minister said.

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