CBDT charges three IRS officers for ‘tax hike’ report, ‘misguiding’ young taxmen

NEW DELHI: The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has named three senior Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers in its chargesheet on Monday for creating policy uncertainty and panic by unauthorisedly publishing ‘tax hike’ report and ‘misguiding’ young taxmen.
The three IRS officers — Sanjay Bahadur (principal director investigation, northeast region; 1989 batch), Shri Prakash Dubey (director DOPT, IRS Association‘s joint secretary; 2001 batch) and Prashant Bhushan (principal commissioner of income tax, Delhi, and IRS Association’s general secretary; 1988 batch) — have been given 15 days’ time to submit a written response in their defence to the charge sheets and also on whether they want to be heard in person.
These officers also have been divested of their current duties on charges of violating Rules 9 and 3(1)(xx) of the Central Civil Service Conduct Rules.
The CBDT is the policy-making body for the income tax (I-T) department that collects revenue for the government.
It all started when a group of 46 under-training and recently commissioned tax officers penned a paper calling for taxing the super-rich and foreign companies to pay for fighting coronavirus pandemic. Then, their association promptly forwarded it to the government and posted it on Twitter only to clarify in less than 24 hours that the work doesn’t reflect the opinion of entire revenue service officers and an apparently unhappy government said an inquiry will be launched.
This is the curious story of a report which suggested raising the highest tax slab rate to 40 per cent for income above a minimum threshold of Rs 1 crore or re-introduction of wealth tax for those with a net wealth of Rs 5 crore or more to help pay for the coronavirus economic fallout.
About a third of the 46 Indian Revenue Services (IRS) officers, whose name appears in credits in the 43-page report, had joined the service in 2018 and 2019 and should have been undergoing the mandatory two-year training at Nagpur-based National Academy of Direct Taxes (NADT) that is headed by senior tax officer Alka Tyagi.
The verified Twitter handle of the association had on April 25 evening posted: “Almost 50 young IRS officers submit policy suggestions for reviving India’s economy, post COVID-19.” The handle posted the full 43-page paper titled ‘FORCE’ or Fiscal Options & Response to COVID-19 Epidemic on April 26 morning.

But as the suggestion drew flak from Twitterati who said governments around the globe are offering stimulus in form of tax cuts to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, the IRS Association by evening clarified. “The paper FORCE by 50 young IRS officers suggesting policy measures had been forwarded by IRSA to CBDT for consideration. It does not purport to represent the official views of the entire IRS, or the IT Dept,” it said.

The I-T department also in a tweet said the report did not reflect the official views of the CBDT and the finance ministry. It said an inquiry was being launched into why the report was shared with the public.
“There is some report circulating on social media regarding suggestions by a few IRS officers on tackling Covid-19 situation. It is unequivocally stated that CBDT never asked IRS Association or these officers to prepare such a report,” the department tweeted late on Sunday evening.

(With PTI inputs)

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