Tax officials across the country have threatened to reduce their workload from 12 March seeking an improvement in their working conditions, including the demand that anomalies in their salaries be set right.
Two of the unions — Income Tax Employees Federation and Income Tax Gazetted Officers’ Association that claim to represent 97 per cent of the tax officials — plan to stop submitting "certain reports" as also stop taking part in search and seizure operations from 12 March if their grievances are not redressed.
If the stalemate continues further, they could stop working overtime from March 15.
The unions, in a letter to Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) earlier this week, said they were under “undue pressure” to collect taxes.
The staff were also suffering from unclear promotion rules and career stagnation. They have sought contracts for casual workers of the department too.
The development comes on the heels of the Lok Sabha ratifying the “Vivad se Vishwas” income tax scheme that allows a taxpayer to pay dispute tax. In return, the government will not levy interest and penalty on the dues.
The tax officials have assured the government they will do their best to make the scheme work but want their long-standing demands to be fulfilled.
In October last year, the tax officials had opposed the new faceless tax assessment scheme, saying they were not consulted and resources were inadequate to implement it.
Then, too, both unions wrote to the CBDT that the faceless tax assessment scheme was being implemented in a hurry and in a unilateral manner that would affect the efficient working of the department.
Then, the unions said their members had to shoulder additional work as officers were being transferred to fill newly-created posts at regional centres. Also, the new officials lacked proper infrastructure, they claimed.
A major reason for the tax department staff to raise a hue and cry against the government now is that they feel that they are being forced to meet huge tax targets amidst a slowdown in the economy.
The threat by tax department staff members is more to ease the pressure on them, especially after the government said that their performance will be linked to the “Vivad se Vishwas” income tax scheme.
The unions feel that the government is entrusting the responsibility of the scheme’s success on them, which is unfair.
Their letter to CBDT seeking recognition for “going beyond limits and working for the Government” is an indicator that they are looking for some sort of succour, either in terms of recognition or improved working conditions.
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