Officer-trainees of the 71st batch of the Indian Revenue Service called on the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, on March 23, 2018 at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Addressing the officer-trainees, the President said the Indian Revenue Service plays a pivotal role in collection of direct taxes – such as income tax, corporate taxes and wealth tax. Tax revenue is a reflection of the health of the economy.

The President said that India is the world’s fastest growing major economy. Over the coming decade, its GDP is expected to more than double. This will create more opportunities all-round. It will increase tax revenues and enhance challenges for Indian Revenue Officers. They will need to address the challenges while facilitating the economic engine of our country. Their success will determine both their individual future – as well as the trajectory of the Indian economy.

The President said that tax revenue pays for developmental and infrastructure projects – and for nation building. From 2000-01, the first year of the millennium, to 2016-17, the share of direct taxes in overall tax collection of the Union government has gone up from 36 per cent to just short of 50 per cent.

The President advised the officer-trainees to remember that the tax payer is their partner, not their adversary. They have a policy and regulatory role, but they are principally service providers. He urged them to be sensitive to the demands and the dignity of the person – the honest tax payer – who is coming to them for a service.

The President said that IRS officers are frontline soldiers in the battle against black money. The government has put in place various steps to eradicate or at least minimise the curse of black money – demonetisation, the Income Declaration Scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana and the Benami Transactions Prohibition Act among others. Each of these measures requires cooperation and follow-up on the part of officers of their Service.

In conclusion, the President said that he did not believe there was need to urge upon the officer-trainees the importance of honesty. For a Service so critical to our economic and national life, honesty is a given. It should be written into the DNA of the Revenue Service. Despite aberrations – and we have to admit there have been aberrations – common people still have great expectations from our public servants and particularly from the IRS.

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