In letter to PM, IRS officers blast extensions to brass

NEW DELHI: In a rare outburst, “highly agitated” Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers dealing with customs and indirect taxes have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, denouncing extensions and reappointment to members of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), arguing that this promotes “vested interests and lobbying” that is “detrimental to professional conduct and prevention of tax evasion”.
A year after a CBIC member’s term was extended, the association said, some more members are expected to be getting an extension or reappointment post-retirement and proposals are under “active consideration”. It argued against extension for members of CBIC as well as the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
“…extension of tenure beyond superannuation demoralises the cadre as the entire chain of promotion gets blocked, that too when sufficient eligible officers are available for promotion,” the association said, adding that secretaries who belonged to the IAS were not being given an extension.
Sandeep Mohan Bhatnagar, who is currently member (customs), had got an extension last August.
When contacted, All India Association of IRS Association of Customs & Indirect Tax Officers president Naresh Penumbaka told TOI the letter was sent after consultations with 150 office-bearers, with a similar representation sent to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and principal secretary to PM P K Mishra.
“It is our appeal. We will observe government orders, but we have to ventilate the views of our members,” he said over the phone.
The representation comes amid repeated criticism of the revenue service by opposition parties, who have accused tax officers of taking politically motivated stands. Earlier this week, AAP criticised the tax department following a notice to Delhi MLA Atishi.
The letter has also triggered chatter among direct tax officers from the IRS. The officers’ wing for direct tax officers is virtually defunct after the government charge-sheeted some office-bearers for offering unsolicited advice during last year’s national lockdown, which included levying of cess on certain sections.
Currently, J B Mahapatra is working as the interim chairman of CBDT with his two predecessors Sushil Chandra and P C Mody getting two extensions each after their retirement. The government had also reappointed S K Gupta as member CBDT after his retirement.

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