GST made India more tax-compliant society: President

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) had made India a more tax-compliant society while also enhancing the ease of doing business.

On the first anniversary of the implementation of the GST, the President said the new tax regime helped India achieve many goals including creation of a common platform across the country for registration, duty payments, filing of returns and refund of taxes.

“GST has also enhanced reliance on technology and reduced scope for subjectivity,” he said at the inauguration of the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), an official statement said.

Kovind also said the GST rollout has been part of a sustained effort over the past few years to formalise the economy, enforce rule of law, promote transparency in financial and business transactions, and make India much more of a tax compliant society.

Stressing that adherence to a fair taxation system is much more than merely providing revenue to the government, he said: “Taxes are what we pay to get social benefits in the form of public goods and services, health and education facilities, better infrastructure, law and order, and secure borders.

“It is crucial that this responsibility is shared by the widest possible number of citizens — whether they pay taxes directly or indirectly.”

The President said that chartered accountants had a key role in advancing such a culture and while as professionals, it is their legitimate right to advise their clients on tax planning, “but there is a fine line between intelligent tax planning and tax dodging and tax evasion”, and they were custodians of that fine line.

Maintaining such propriety is not just a legal duty for all tax payers and for all taxation and financial professionals, there is also a morality added to it, he added.

“When banking scandals take place, when large borrowers abscond and leave their banks in the lurch — or, as in the case of Satyam some years ago, when promoters themselves embezzle funds and carry out fraud — it represents a breach of faith.

“It amounts to a betrayal of not only corporate ethics but of honest fellow citizens and of our collective value system. White collar crimes don’t leave behind a smoking gun; they leave behind broken hearts and a shaken confidence,” Kovind said.

“When such episodes occur, it would be in order to introspect. It would be relevant to ask if those responsible for auditing balance sheets have truly done their duty, or if they have contributed to the sorry situation.”

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