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Coronavirus in India: I-T officers in a fix over ‘informal’ orders to return to work

Direct tax collections missed the revised target for 2019-20 by Rs 1.42 trillion at Rs 10.27 trillion, an 8 per cent fall over the previous year.

Tax

An income tax officer posted in Ranchi is in a fix after being asked to report to work amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-induced lockdown, recently extended till May 3.

He is currently in Chandigarh, his hometown, and has no means to return as flights and trains have been suspended.

 

Besides, with separate state laws and restrictions also in force, permissions might be needed to operate in COVID-19 hotspots.

He is one among many who are flummoxed by unofficial orders they have received from supervisory officers, asking them to join work before April 20, when the Ministry of Home Affairs’ relaxation in guidelines kicks in.

This is being done to achieve stiff targets related to direct tax collections and Vivad se Vishwas dispute resolution scheme.

“I visited my home in Gurugram when the lockdown was announced.

“There is no way that I can report to work in Ahmedabad where I am posted. Informally, we have been told to report this week, and officially from April 19. This is impossible for most of us,” said an officer.

This has prompted the All India IRS Association to write to Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman P C Mody requesting him to issue immediate directions to the Cadre Controlling Authorities to desist from issuing such directions to field formations, without specifying the essential activities they would perform and without comprehensive arrangements in place.

It said this would “compromise the health and safety of employees, as also government’s effort at containment and elimination of Covid-19”.

Direct tax collections missed the revised target for 2019-20 by Rs 1.42 trillion at Rs 10.27 trillion, an 8 per cent fall over the previous year.

This means that the target for FY21 stands at 28.2 per cent, against the 12 per cent assumed in the Budget.

However, the CBDT issued an official order on Tuesday asking field formations to report to work from April 20, in line with the revised guidelines.

The Joint Council of Action, an association of I-T employees and gazetted officers, in a letter to CBDT chairman Mody said no-objection certificates had to be obtained from states, Union Territories or district administration that all preparatory arrangements had to be put in place.

It sought a plan to support reopening, from logistics and travel facilities for support staff, to statutory permissions, protection and insurance (as provided for essential services) and equipment for screening of those attending offices.

Besides, it sought emergency response protocols, and setting up of helpdesks to support and assist those carrying out such essential functions.

“Many states have operational Epidemic Act provisions, curfews and other restrictions in force, and our employees would either have to be exempted by local authorities, or run the risk of prosecution,” said an official.

The association also sought arrangement of transport to and from office as there is no public transport.

“Though certain ranks below the cadre of CIT may be in a position to requisition the operational vehicles, most other officers/staff members do not have such facility for commuting to office.

“These officers and officials are mainly dependent upon public transport,” said the letter.

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Kaushal Bhardwaj

I am the Founder of Realtimenews, where love to share the ideas and experiences. He has worked as a journalist for a few online website around 2 years. He brings together substantial news bulletins from the field of Technology and Blogging & Marketing.

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