The poor conduct of tax officers and staff is believed to have drawn a lot of complaints from taxpayers, damaging the image of the department.
New Delhi: The days of the ‘brusque income tax officer’, a stereotype well documented in popular culture, may well be over.
Following a number of complaints about their high-handed and rude conduct, the income tax department has asked officers and staff to be well behaved with taxpayers.
The department has professed zero tolerance towards misbehaviour with taxpayers and their representatives.
In a letter sent out earlier this week, Neena Kumar, the principal director general of income tax (administration and taxpayer services), has stressed the necessity of soft skills among employees. “It is important that the behaviour of officers and staff should be courteous, polite and above reproach,” the letter said.
“However, a number of complaints were received by the taxpayer services directorate and the CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) regarding harassment, misconduct and high-handedness of officers and staff,” it added.
The note said such behaviour earned the department a bad name.
“Such incidents damage the image and reputation of the income tax department and dent the efforts of the department to position itself as a service-oriented organisation,” the note dated 16 April said.
The director general said officers needed to deal with the public with efficiency as well as decency.
“This behaviour needs to be impeccable not only in the performance of their official duties, but also decorous outside the office,” the note added.
Income tax officers are widely believed to be rude in their dealings with taxpayers. The concern is so real for some people that if you key in ‘income tax officers misbehave’ on Google, among the top results that pop up is a link to a query on the Q&A site Quora: “What to do when I-T officials raid your house”. In the reply, people have offered tips and advice to protect oneself from “harassment” by tax sleuths.
Speaking to fresh Indian Revenue Service recruits last month, President Ram Nath Kovind had addressed the issue as well, saying the honest taxpayer was a partner of the taxman and not his adversary. “You have a policy and regulatory role, but you are principally a service provider,” Kovind said. “Please be sensitive to the demands and dignity of the person – the honest taxpayer – who is coming to you for a service.”