History of Income Tax Post Independence

  1. Preliminary :

    The rapid changes in administration of direct taxes, during the last decades, reflect the history of socio-economic thinking in India. From 1922 to the present day changes in direct tax laws have been so rapid that except in the bare outlines, the traces of the I.T. Act, 1922 can hardly be seen in the 1961 Act as it stands amended to date. It was but natural, in these circumstances that the set up of the department should not only expand but undergo structural changes as well.

  2. Changes in administrative set up since the inception of the department:

    The organisational history of the Income-tax Department starts in the year 1922. The Income-tax Act, 1922, gave, for the first time, a specific nomenclature to various Income-tax authorities. The foundation of a proper system of administration was thus laid. In 1924, Central Board of Revenue Act constituted the Board as a statutory body with functional responsibilities for the administration of the Income-tax Act. Commissioners of Income- tax were appointed separately for each province and Assistant Commissioners and Income-tax Officers were provided under their control. The amendments to the Income tax Act, in 1939, made two vital structural changes: (i) appellate functions were separated from administrative functions; a class of officers, known as Appellate Assistant Commissioners, thus came into existence, and (ii) a central charge was created in Bombay. In 1940, with a view to exercising effective control over the progress and inspection of the work of Income-tax Department throughout India, the very first attached office of the Board, called Directorate of Inspection (Income Tax) – was created. As a result of separation of executive and judicial functions, in 1941, the Appellate Tribunal came into existence. In the same year, a central charge was created in Calcutta also.

    1. World War II brought unusual profits to businessmen. During 1940 to 1947, Excess Profits Tax and Business Profits Tax were introduced and their administration handed over to the Department (These were later repealed in 1946 and 1949 respectively). In 1951, the 1st Voluntary Disclosure Scheme was brought in. It was during this period, in 1946, that a few Group ‘A’ officers were directly recruited. Later on in 1953, the Group ‘A’ Service was formally constituted as the ‘Indian Revenue Service’.
    2. This era was characterised by considerable emphasis on development of investigation techniques. In 1947, Taxation on Income (Investigation) Commission was set up which was declared ultra vires by the Supreme Court in 1956 but the necessity of deep investigation had by then been realised. In 1952, the Directorate of Inspection (Investigation) was set up. It was in this year that a new cadre known as Inspectors of Income Tax was created. The increase in ‘large income’ cases necessitated checking of the work done by departmental officers. Thus in 1954, the Internal Audit Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Department.
    3. As indicated earlier, in 1946, for the first time a few Group A officers were recruited in the department. Training them was important. The new recruits were sent to Bombay and Calcutta where they were trained, though not in an organised manner. In 1957, I.R.S. (Direct Taxes) Staff College started functioning in Nagpur. Today this attached office of the Board functions under a Director-General. It is called the National Academy of Direct Taxes. By 1963, the I.T. department, burdened with the administration of several other Acts like W.T., G.T., E.D., etc., had expanded to such an extent that it was considered necessary to put it under a separate Board. Consequently, the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963 was passed. The Central Board of Direct Taxes was constituted, under this Act.
    4. The developing nature of the economy of the country brought with it both steep rates of taxes and black incomes. In 1965, the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme was brought in followed by the 1975 Disclosure Scheme. Finally, the need for a permanent settlement mechanism resulted in the creation of the Settlement Commission.
    5. A very important administrative change occurred during this period. The recovery of arrears of tax which till 1970 was the function of State authorities was passed on to the departmental officers. A whole new wing of Officers – Tax Recovery Officers was created and a new cadre of post of Tax Recovery Commissioners was introduced w.e.f. 1-1-1972.

      In 1993 a Working Group was set up by the Government to recommend computerization of the department. Based on the report of the Working Group a comprehensive computerization plan was approved by the Government in October, 1993. In pursuance of this, Regional Computer Centres were set up in Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai in 1994-95 with RS6000/59H Servers. PCs were first provided to officers in these cities in phases.

  3. Important events in the Income-tax department:





Rs. 1400 Presumptive Taxation scheme introduced as a measure to widen tax base.


New PAN introduced.


Presumptive tax scheme discontinued.

Voluntary Disclosure Scheme 1997 introduced

Minimum Alternate Tax introduced


Sec. 260A introduced enabling direct appeals to High Court.

1/6 Scheme & penalty for non-filing of return introduced to widen tax base.

Gift-tax abolished for gifts made after 1.10.1998


Computerized processing of returns all over the country introduced


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