CBDT initiates inquiry on IRS officers for unsolicited report on funding COVID relief work

New Delhi, Apr 26 (PTI) The CBDT on Sunday said an inquiry is being initiated against 50 IRS officers of the I-T department who have penned an unsolicited report on revenue mobilisation to fund COVID-19 relief measures and made it public without permission.

In a statement, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which is the apex policy making body for direct tax policies, said it has never asked IRS Association or these officers to prepare such a report and no permission was sought by them before making the report public.

'It is unequivocally stated that CBDT never asked IRS Association or these officers to prepare such a report.

'No permission was sought by the officers before going public with their personal views and suggestions on official matters, which is a violation of extant Conduct Rules. Necessary inquiry is being initiated in this matter,' the CBDT said.

It further said the 'impugned report' does not reflect the official views of CBDT/Ministry of Finance in any manner.

These 50 officers from the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) Association in a report titled 'FORCE (Fiscal Options & Response to the COVID-19 Epidemic') suggested raising tax rate to 40 per cent for those with income above Rs 1 crore, from 30 per cent at present, and levy of wealth tax for those with over Rs 5 crore annual income.

They also suggested levy of a COVID Relief Cess of 4 per cent on those with taxable income of more than Rs 10 lakh to help mobilise revenue for funding COVID relief work.

Earlier, Finance Ministry sources had said the report by these officers is 'ill-conceived' and an act of indiscipline and violation of service conduct rules.

'It was not even part of their duty to prepare such a report. Therefore, it is prima-facie an act of indiscipline and violation of conduct rules which specifically prohibits officers to go to media with their personal views on official matters without taking prior sanction or the permission of the government. The concerned officers will have to explain their misconduct,' a source said.  The report, dated April 23, was submitted to the CBDT Chairman.

Ministry sources further said that releasing the report in the media through IRS Association's twitter and website is 'an irresponsible act' of few officers.

In a tweet, IRS Association also said 'The paper FORCE by 50 young IRS officers suggesting policy measures had been forwarded by IRSA to CBDT for consideration. It does not purport to represent the official views of the entire IRS, or the IT Dept.' PTI JD BAL BAL