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food for thought

The Central government has taken several steps in past 2-3 years so that Indian society turns into a tax compliant one. The stern message is being sent out from different official platforms that citizens can sleep in peace so long as they declare their true income honestly and pay tax on it. But this exercise will be turned to nought if corrupt bank, tax and other government officials get to defeat its purpose, hell bent as they are in feathering their nest. Recently, the CBI has registered a case of tax evasion against two income tax officials (one of them of commissioner rank), a couple of chartered accountants and a Jorhat-based businessman. It has been officially alleged that the two tax officials entered into a ‘criminal conspiracy’ to help the businessman evade a huge tax amount by passing a favourable order in an appeal the businessman had made regarding assessment of one of his shell companies. In return, the tax officials were to receive a huge bribe of Rs 50 lakh, but after CBI and vigilance officials got wind of it and raided several places in Assam as well as in Delhi and Noida, around Rs 40 lakh has reportedly been seized from a middleman. It remains to be seen whether the CBI probe unearths enough evidence to nail this case when it comes up in court, but the implications are worrying. Apart from demonetization, the government has tightened tax regulations, passed laws to prevent money laundering and benami assets among other things, and moved fast to link bank accounts and PAN cards with Aadhaar number (through this linkage it is claiming to have unearthed Rs 33,000 crore that has not been taxed so far). But the vigilance on tax and bank officials too needs to improve by several degrees, so that they do not get away in sabotaging the system from inside.