Inaugural Session of the Maa Vaishno Devi National Tax Conference
THEME: IMPACT OF EMERGING TECHNOLOGY ON TAXATION
Brother Justice Pankaj Mithal, Chief Justice of High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh
Shri Sanjay Kumar, Conference Chairman and officer bearers of All India Federation of Tax Practitioners, (North Zone); Income Tax Bar Association, Prayagraj and Tax Bar Association, Jammu
Dignitaries on the Dais and off the Dais Members of the Legal Fraternity Delegate and Esteemed Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
A very Good Morning to you all.
It is indeed my privilege to be here for the inauguration of this National Tax Conference that is being organised on the pertinent theme of “Impact of Emerging Technology on Taxation”.
The Technological Revolution brought with itself a cascading avalanche of regulatory and administrative challenges. New development in technology have constantly changed the paradigm of doing business and dealing with financial transactions. This, in effect, raised several fundamental questions as to the regulation and taxation of such novel methods of doing business. However, India has been able to continuously synchronize its regulatory structures with the modern fast-paced developing technological world. A testament to this claim would be the fact that while most of the nations are still at the nascent stage of amending and adjusting their laws and taxation structures to incorporate the new developments in the technological world, India has already advanced to the secondary stage of Technological Adaptation. It has not only reformed its direct and indirect tax laws to meet the challenges of the dawn of technological revolution, but has also incorporated the technological advancements in its regulatory and administrative structures. This allows the public at large to reap the benefits of the modern developments and experience an updated streamlined service, designed to not only reduce the compliance burden upon the citizens, but also to instill and inspire a sense of confidence in the taxpayers.
One such latest measure implemented by the Indian Government is the launch of its new Income Tax Portal, “e-Filing 2.0”. This is an online portal developed under the National E-Governance Plan and aimed at providing a single window access to all the income tax related services for taxpayers and other stakeholders. Such initiatives encapsulate not only the impact of new emerging technology on Taxation, but also the efforts of Government to use the said technology to make compliance more taxpayer friendly.
The contemporary relevance of this National Tax Conference can be gauged from the fact that the very first technical session of the conference begins with a discussion on this new Income tax Portal. I am hopeful that this discussion, along with the other scheduled discussions on pertinent issues, would bring together diverse perspectives and orientations on these contemporary issues of relevance, and would enable the intelligentia gathered here today to unfold the complexities of these issues in a comprehensive manner. So as to come up with novel and targeted solutions to those problems that may miss the eye, unless discussed in such a holistic and intellectual environment that this conference would provide.
Speaking of a comprehensive approach, it is imperative for the governments worldwide, especially in post-covid era, to embrace the emerging technologies and incorporate them in their administrative and taxation structures to incessantly raise the standard of services rendered to the taxpaying citizens. The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the shortcomings of administrative set-ups worldwide that relied upon physical filings, in-person applications and other face-to-face transactions. Such learnings must pave the way for a more advanced system of taxation compliance, that not only minimizes the burden and efforts of the taxpayers, but also maximizes the regulatory grip over taxable activities so as to constantly curb the tax-evasive practices, by having a more centralised and digitalized approach of tracking and regulation.
Developing novel approaches regulation through technology assumes importance, as it would not only assist us to carry the benefits of the technological advancements to the taxpaying citizenry, but would also help us be prepared for the unforeseen challenges of tomorrow. To be able to achieve this, field experts must come together and share their valuable learnings and ideas. It is therefore I say, that this conference would inevitably prove to be of vital significance, by being a cradle for progressive ideas and templates, that would strengthen our revenue and taxation set-up, and thereby usher an age of prosperity.
The vision of the taxation authorities has been to be a partner in the nation building process through progressive tax policy, efficient and effective tax administration and improved voluntary compliance. A taxation set-up that fails to develop and update itself in tandem with the technological advancements, will neither be able to augment the revenue mobilization, nor be able to inspire confidence of the taxpayer in the system. Since businesses have found new ways to incorporate developing technologies like Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Machine Learning et cetera, into their mode of operation and means of transactions, it becomes imperative for even the Tax authorities to engage in rigorous examination of such emerging technology, and adopt well-tailored approach to incorporate them into out taxation regime, and update our regulation to correspond with the developments. Such incorporation would invariably mitigate the regulatory uncertainties that surround modern enterprises, for instance, the ones based on blockchain and cryptocurrency. This reduction of uncertainty would prove to be directly proportional to increasing the ease of doing business in India, and would inevitably help the financial sector chart a course of robust recovery, post the covid crisis.
Therefore, the prerogative of this conference is not only to examine and discuss the contours of the existing taxation structures, but also to lay the groundwork for upcoming discussions around the emerging enterprises. To be able to comprehensively understand the contours of such studies and explore the possibilities to adequately transpose them in the Indian context, is something that I hope this present and the successive conferences of All India Federation of Tax Practitioners would meticulously discuss and vigorously work upon.
Seeing the pressing need for such discussions, I am glad that this National Tax Conference has been organized by the North Zone of the All India Federation of Tax Practitioners, in association with the Income Tax Bar Association, Prayagraj and the Tax Bar Association, Jammu. I heartily applaud and appreciate the efforts of the Federation and the organizing Associations, and wish them all the very best for the success of this conference. I would also want to extend my warm wishes to all the Delegates and subject experts present here today, who are gracing this conference with their valuable and diverse perspectives.
I once again profoundly thank the organizers for having me here and wish them all the very best for their upcoming endeavours.
Jai Mata Di.
(Source : Speech delivered at Inaugural Session of National Tax Conference held at Katra on 2nd October, 2021)