As digitisation is inducing transparency in systems across the government and the private sector, more and more people are responsibly filing their tax returns. Though it is pleasing to the ears, the huge data that this generates is hard to handle manually. Hence, tools like data analytics with machine learning play a crucial role in optimising revenue generation through taxes for the governments. Deliberating on similar lines, Showkat Ahmad Parry, Additional Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, Government of Punjab, addressed the Revenue Management and Intelligence Summit 2021.
He started on the note that “data is the most important aspect of human life.” Citing examples like Aadhaar, GSTN, income tax, etc. he said that “data is running the country today.”
Speaking on the significance of data analytics, he said, “I am currently, working in an organisation that deals with taxpayers in the State of Punjab. Only in Punjab, we have 3.6 lakh registered taxpayers. Each one of them, excluding the composition taxpayers, have to file the returns twice a month. This generates nearly 7.2 lakh returns a month and each of the returns has data spread across some 30 to 40 rows and columns. Through this, we can imagine the humongous amount of data available with the officer who is working with around 1000 dealers. How do we expect an officer, dealing with such data, to scrutinise it?” Therefore, it becomes extremely essential that we have enough tools and appropriate technology to empower the staff to deliver its duties efficiently and effectively. Data analytics have come in handy to scrutinise such data and help manage revenue, he added.
Apart from the data, the officers also need to predict the behaviour of the taxpayers. In almost all the departments, the government officers have to keep an eye on how consumer behaviour is changing. In this regard, there is a need to have inter-department collaborations and strong data sharing policies. This is important as the number of units of electricity a firm is using is dependent on its productions and that decides the amount of tax it has to pay. Therefore, all the departments are linked to each other. If inter-departmental data sharing is established it will improve fraud analytics and other control measures.
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Deliberating on technology tools, he highlighted, “Once the action is taken through a system then the system should be able to capture the data and learn from that to enable itself to detect and generate alerts automatically. This will improve our efficiency.” Along these lines, the department is currently working to develop a tool using machine learning technology in partnership with a private firm. “Similarly, we’re working with SAS. We’ve purchased their software and we’re working on it,” he added.
Drawing out a conclusion, he said, “Data is the new lifeline. All the departments need to synergise with each other, coordinate with each other and share. Also, centralising the data collection can be a great way to establish stringer communication between different sets of data and realise the potential of the data to optimise the revenue generation for the government.”