As Prime Minister Narendra Modi aspires to make the tax department hassle-free and bring in ease of doing business, the two tax boards – CBDT and CBIC, in the revenue department of finance ministry are struggling to fill in their senior-most member positions, leading to delay in decision making.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the apex policy-making body for income tax, is still awaiting replacement for three of its members. Whereas, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), the apex policy-making body for indirect taxes, customs and managing entire goods and services tax-related developments on behalf of the central government, is still waiting for a replacement for two of its members.
CBDT consists of a chairman and six members. The present chairman -- PC Mody, scheduled to retire August 2019, if the extension is not given, which would mean that another position will get vacant by the end of this month.
"If the current chairman, is not given an extension then another position would go vacant, as Member (Legislation) in CBDT is due to become the next chairman, which would lead to four positions in the board required to be filled up by the revenue department," senior government officials told CNBC-TV18.
The three positions in CBDT, which are vacant as of now include -- member administration, member investigations and member income tax and computerisation.
These three are being held in additional charge capacity as of now. Chairman holds an additional charge of member (investigations), member (revenue) is holding an additional charge of member (administration) and member (audit and judicial) is holding an additional charge of member (income-tax and computerisation)
Interesting to note here is that, ex-member investigations at CBDT, Gopal Mukherjee retired in January 2018, after which the position (of Member investigation) in CBDT continues to remain vacant till date and the work allocation for this position has been given to the chairman of the board as an additional charge by the government.
"The first position to get vacated in CBDT was of Member (investigations), but the government did fill in other positions that got vacated after this in the board but it did not get any new member investigations and the position continues to remain in an additional charge capacity with the chairman. This is the first time in the recent past when other positions were filled in except the position of Member (investigations), which is a crucial position for the work related to curbing tax evasion," a senior government official confirmed.
Officials added, "The current, Member (revenue) who is also holding an additional charge of member (administration) -- Neena Kumar, is scheduled to retire on September 2019, which would mean that at the end of next month, two more member positions will go vacant. Making five positions going vacant out of total seven positions (including the chairman)."
Similarly, CBIC also comprises of six members and chairman, out of which two positions are vacant—member (central excise ) and member (Information & Technology).
“CBIC had invited applications for the two positions but there was not enough response and the minimum criterion could not be met, the department had to then call a fresh application and the response is yet to be ascertained,” the official said.
However, the two-member positions got vacated in March and April, but efforts to fill these are not being successful, the official added.
Though the other members and the chairman in CBIC are due to retire next year, it gives a breather to the indirect tax division and makes it tough for CBDT to fill in the positions at the earlier.
Let’s see how soon these taxing times for both the board's end.