It’s time to give IRS officers their due-THE HINDU-14-05-2020
The Central Board of Direct Taxation , a wing of the Ministry of Finance, has initiated disciplinary proceedings against some Indian Revenue Service officers for a report they submitted to the government recently. The officers are not corrupt, nor did they abuse any Minister or any functionary of the government.
A group of 50 IRS officers thought it their duty to help the government in this hour of crisis. They prepared a report titled ‘Fiscal Options and Response to Covid-19 Epidemic’, or FORCE, and submitted it to the government.
There were suggestions time and again that the Chairman of the CBDT should be of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India. The government raised the status of the Chairman to that of a Special Secretary and not a full-fledged Secretary.
The IRS officer is totally invisible, despite the Budget being the handiwork of hard-working IRS officers. Senior IRS officers know the intricacies of taxation, whether national or international.
On the other hand, IAS officers know little about base erosion and profit sharing, transfer pricing, etc. And yet Revenue Administration is not in the hands of an IRS officer, but an IAS officer. The result is that the income tax law is a mess. In the past 60 years, the income tax law has never been mauled in a period of 12 months as it was in 2019-20. The Income Tax Act is a national disgrace, said Nani Palkhivala.
Tax publishers are not able to bring out a proper single volume of income tax law. The blame for this squarely rests on the IAS officers who are above the IRS officers.
Occupying top posts:
IRS officers are rarely allowed to occupy top posts. And yet, a brilliant IRS officer became the Chairman of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority against all odds. Another became Election Commissioner and brought out a classic book on democracy in India after retirement. The IAS maybe the ‘steel frame of India’ but the steel frame has been rusting for quite some time.