The Income Tax Department will use data mining and risk profiling rather than intrusive methods for tax collection, Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said on Wednesday while exuding confidence of achieving the direct tax mop-up target for the current fiscal. Data mining is defined as a process used to extract usable data from a larger set of any raw data. It implies analyzing data patterns in large batches of data using one or more software.

In the 2019-20 Budget, the government has set a direct tax collection target of Rs 13.35 lakh crore, which includes Rs 7.66 lakh crore being collected as corporate taxes and Rs 5.69 lakh crore as income tax.

As per the revised estimates for 2018-19, the government collected Rs 12 lakh crore from direct taxes, of which Rs 6.71 lakh crore was from corporate taxes and Rs 5.29 lakh crore from income tax.

"The direct tax collection has been growing on an average double digit in last 5-6 years which is commendable. I am confident the department will achieve the budget target set for this fiscal.

"We will use data mining, risk profiling and risk assessment rather than intrusive methods. Today we commit to end the fear of notices and scrutiny which can be achieved only through randomised faceless assessment and verification," Pandey said while addressing tax officers at the 159th Income Tax Day event here.

Income tax was introduced for the first time in India on July 24, 1860, by James Wilson to compensate for the losses incurred by the British regime during the first war of independence against British rule.

Pandey said the tax administration has undergone significant changes in recent years and the role of tax officers has changed from tax enforcers to that of a tax facilitator. "Earlier we used to hear complaints of tax administration enforcing laws and many times threat of coercion. Today, it is working to facilitate compliance by creating atmosphere conducive to voluntary payment and discouraging tax evasion by credible and non-intrusive use of technology," Pandey said.

He said the number of persons filing income tax returns has gone up from 3.31 crore to 6.5 crore in the last five years and more than 99 per cent ITRs are being filed electronically.

"There is also scope to bring more persons under tax net and widen tax base. In a vast, populous and diverse country like ours, the widening of tax base requires effective utilisation of resources of manpower, infrastructure and communication. The department should constantly improve its infrastructure and upgrade the skill of manpower," he said.

Speaking at the event, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said it is the need of the hour that the role of the tax department and its officials changes from tax enforcement to tax facilitators.

The challenge before the Indian economy and the government is to curb the menace of black money and the I-T department has a major role to play in this, he added.

"I expect the I-T department will take up the challenge and with the help of information available, the I-T department will take demonstrative action against tax evaders. "Therefore, on one hand there is need to create awareness regarding generation of black money and on other hand taking severe actions against offenders. It is required from the I-T department that their action should give a message to the evaders that they should be ready to face consequences of tax evasion," Thakur said.

In Assessment Year 2018-19, there were as many as 8.44 crore taxpayers, which included persons who filed ITR as well as those who did not file a return of income but in whose case tax had been deducted at source during financial year 2017-18.

The government has set a target of adding 1.3 crore income tax filers in the current financial year against 1.1 crore new filers added last year. PTI JD

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