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A Platform will launch on August 13 by PM Modi to honour honest taxpayers.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch “Transparent Taxation Honouring the Honest”, a platform for honouring the country’s honest taxpayers on Thursday.

The virtual event will be witnessed by various chambers of commerce, trade associations, chartered accountants’ associations and “eminent” taxpayers, the statement issued on Wednesday said.

The 2020-21 Budget unveiled on February 1, had announced a ‘taxpayer charter’, which is expected to have statutory status and will empower citizens by ensuring time-bound services by the Income Tax department.

“The upcoming launch of the platform for ‘Transparent Taxation – Honoring the Honest’ by the Prime Minister will further carry forward the journey of direct tax reforms,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Ministry said the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has carried out several major tax reforms in direct taxes in recent years.

Last year the Corporate Tax rates were reduced from 30 percent to 22 percent and for new manufacturing units the rates were reduced to 15 percent. Dividend distribution Tax was also abolished.

“The focus of the tax reforms has been on reduction in tax rates and on simplification of direct tax laws. Several initiatives have been taken by the CBDT for bringing in efficiency and transparency in the functioning of the I-T Department,” it said.

In the Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that CBDT will adopt a “taxpayer charter” which will ensure trust between a taxpayer and the administration and reduce harassment, as well as increase efficiency of the department.

CBDT, which is the apex decision making body in direct tax matters, administers personal income tax and corporate tax.

“Wealth creators will be respected in this country,” she had said in her 2020-21 Budget speech.

“We wish to enshrine in the statutes a “taxpayer charter” through this budget. Our government would like to reassure taxpayers that we remain committed to taking measures so that our citizens are free from harassment of any kind,” she had said.

To facilitate better taxpayer services, CBDT has lowered the percentage of I-T returns picked up for scrutiny.

Income Tax returns (ITRs) picked up for scrutiny has reduced to 0.25 percent of the total ITRs filed in Assessment Year (AY) 2018-19, from 0.55 percent in AY 2017-18. The number was 0.71 percent in AY 2015-16 and 0.40 percent in AY 2016-17.

Taking forward faceless assessment process, the Budget also proposed to bring about “faceless appeal”.

Currently, most of the functions of the Income Tax Department starting from the filing of return, processing of returns, issuance of refunds and assessment are performed in the electronic mode without any human interface.

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Virtual bilateral summit between Mahinda Rajapaksa and PM Modi will hold on Saturday.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa will hold a virtual bilateral summit on September 26, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Wednesday.

The ministry said the summit will give an opportunity to the two leaders to comprehensively review the broad framework of the bilateral relationship. The two leaders are expected to deliberate on a host of issues like ways to further deepen anti-terror cooperation, boost overall defence and trade ties as well as implementation of India’s development projects in Sri Lanka.

The long-pending Tamil issue in Sri Lanka is also likely to figure in the talks.India has been pitching for fulfilling the aspirations of the Tamil community in the island nation.

“The virtual bilateral summit will give an opportunity to the two leaders to comprehensively review the broad framework of the bilateral relationship soon after the Parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka and in the context of the time-tested friendly ties between the two countries,” the MEA said in a statement.

Last month, Rajapaksa was sworn in as Sri Lankan prime minister for a fresh term after his party, Sri Lanka People’s Front, secured a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary polls.

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