After Row Over Tax Hike Advice, Action Against 3 Senior Officers

The centre on Sunday rubbished the report as an “act of indiscipline” (Representational)

New Delhi:

The centre on Monday suspended three senior Indian Revenue Service officers, alleging that they “misguided” their juniors and triggered panic by proposing in an “unauthorised” report tax hikes to boost revenue amid the coronavirus lockdown. The officers – Prashant Bhushan, Prakash Dubey, Sanjay Bahadur – are also accused of creating policy uncertainty with the report, sources say.

The centre on Sunday rejected the report as an “act of indiscipline”, and said an inquiry was being launched into why the report was shared with the public.

Sources said the initial inquiries made in this regard have highlighted the role of the senior officers, and they are divested of their current responsibilities.

These senior officers, despite having more than 30 years of service experience, failed to exercise due care and went on to misguide the 50 young officers, government sources told NDTV.

Sources say the government would have given due consideration to the report had it been sent through proper channel.

In a 44-page report titled FORCE (Fiscal Options and Response to COVID-19 Epidemic), officials who called themselves “Team Force” made a series of suggestions that include hiking tax on super-rich to 40 per cent, levying pandemic cess and imposing higher tax on foreign companies.

“The estimate for gross tax revenue for 2019-2020 was revised lower to amount. 21.6 lakh from Rs. 24.6 lakh crore announced in the previous budget. Even for the upcoming financial year 2020-21, there is a target of 12% increase in the gross tax revenue at Rs. 24.2 lakh crore. However, the slowdown in economy coupled with COVID-19 will dent the revenue collections especially in direct taxes,” the report said.

The report, dated April 23, said that “In times like these, the so called ‘super rich’ have a higher obligation towards ensuring the larger public good”.

The government on Sunday said the report was neither sought nor it was the IRS Association’s duty to prepare it. It had further said preparing the report amounted to “misconduct” and an “act of indiscipline”. It had sought an explanation from the chairman of the CBDT to whom the report was submitted.

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