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Window of ease for taxpayers

New Delhi, Dec. 28: Finance minister P. Chidambaram has asked 582 companies to use the newly-established single-window tax payment facility.

“Taxes must be paid. I don’t believe in blunt measures like search and seizures. However, sometimes, we have to use blunt instruments,” Chidambaram said, flagging off a roadshow for the large taxpayers’ unit scheme (LTUS) here today.

Companies can confirm their participation in the scheme before January 10, so that the tax department can assess the taxes from next fiscal.

The finance minister said the units will be modern offices, manned by senior officials of the tax department. “I promise you that LTUS will be modern offices. Assessments and payments will be through the electronic route. Senior officials will assist you,” he added.

“The unit will give an opportunity to taxpayers and collectors to discharge their obligations in a hassle-free and dispute-free manner. The cost of compliance will also come down,” he said.

Initially, companies paying more than Rs 5 crore and falling under any of the tax commissionerates of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Calcutta will have the option of filing returns on excise, corporate and service tax through a single window. The unit is being set up in these cities initially.

In these cities, as many as 582 companies will be able to make use of the facility. Of these firms, 145 are in Delhi, 196 in Mumbai, 101 in Calcutta, 84 in Chennai and 56 in Bangalore.

“If all the 582 companies join the scheme, we will make a splendid beginning,” he said.

“Countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal have already set up the scheme. It is already a common feature in developed nations like the Netherlands, US, UK and Indonesia,” he added.

The finance minister said he saw fewer tax disputes as more and more companies opt for the new system.

“The assessment must be of high quality so that disputes are less. This will lead to better compliance,” he said.

Chidambaram said the proposed national tax tribunal should be in place next year. The bill for setting it up is being examined by the standing committee on finance, and should be taken up in the budget session.

He said the ministry would soon engage consultants to restructure the income tax department.

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