MODI1Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday set a target for the taxmen to double the taxpayer base to 10 crore and warned “the long arm of the law” will catch up with those evading taxes.

At the same time, he asked tax officers to be “soft and sober” in their approach and not treat everyone as tax evaders.

Addressing the inaugural session of the two-day annual conference of tax administrators, Prime Minister said the foundation of administration should be on five pillars of Revenue, Accountability, Probity, Information and Digitisation (RAPID).

“There should be respect for law among all citizens and even fear of the long arm of the law for those who evade taxes,” Modi said.

Stating that people should not fear tax administrators, Prime Minister said Indians inherently are honest and asked the taxmen to build a “bridge of trust” so as to achieve tax collection targets without coercion.

At the conference titled ‘Rajasva Gyan Sangam’ (Knowledge Conference on Revenue), Modi asked the officials to “move towards digitisation” to make tax administration efficient and work towards bridging the “trust deficit”.

Taxpayers should not face any problem in paying taxes, he said, adding administrators should have a cooperative approach.

“You should behave like mentors to people, rather than invaders. Don’t presume that every one is tax evader,” Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia quoted Modi as saying in the conference.

Asking taxmen to set sights higher, Modi said we should legitimately aspire to have 10 crore taxpayers within our tax bases as against 5.43 crore tax payers currently.

Prime Minister, who at the beginning asked the officials to give their opinions and suggestions on the issues facing administration in the country, wanted the ‘Gyan Sangam’ to be turned into “Karma Sangam” by translating ideas into action.

On generation of black money in the economy, Modi was of the opinion that holders of illegal wealth are few in number and tax will automatically come if the regime is taxpayer friendly.