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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday appealed to citizens to come forward and be a part of the tax base to help build a self-reliant nation.

While invoking India's struggle for independence and those who sacrificed everything for the nation, Modi appealed to those outside the tax net to take advantage of the government’s steps to make tax administration easier, transparent and trust-based.

He also rolled out a programme for honouring honest tax payers and for making tax collection fairer. The programme, which involves faceless assessment, faceless appeal and a tax payer charter seeks to eliminate physical interface and improve experience and ease of doing business and is part of the overall tax reforms.

Modi's appeal for voluntary tax compliance comes in the wake of the administration's focused on funds because of which it has needed to scale up its borrowings during the current year and to pay for the ₹20 trillion monetary bundle planned for helping families and organizations sail through the coronavirus emergency.

The net tax revenue, or the Centre's portion after sharing earnings with states, during April-June was at ₹1.35 trillion, a drop of 46.4% year-on-year. After taking into account other earnings, the Centre's total earnings during the period stood at ₹1.54 trillion. This is just 6.8% of what the government hopes to earn this fiscal.

Modi said over the last six-seven years, the number of income tax return filers have gone up by 2.5 crore. "This is a big improvement. But we cannot deny that in spite of this growth, in a country of 130 crore people, this is very low…Today I appeal to people and to industry bodies. We have to search our souls. It is inevitable for a self-reliant India. This responsibility is not just of the tax department. It is of every Indian. Who can pay tax, but is not on the tax net, should voluntarily come forward," the prime minister added.
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