Taxes are the lifeblood of the economy of any nation, fueling its growth and development. India, with its complex three-tier federal structure, faces unique challenges in its taxation system. However, recent developments like the introduction of GST  indicate a promising future for tax reforms in the country. The impact of these taxes may be accurately analysed when digital India is driven by the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning into the tax assessment process.

The Importance of Taxes

Taxes serve as a crucial source of government revenue, funding infrastructure development and reducing economic inequality. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz advocates for a progressive tax system, which India has adopted over the years. To further improve tax collection easily, efficiently and to reduce inequalities, India has been exploring innovative approaches.

AI’s Role in Taxation

The adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning in India’s tax system is a transformative step that holds immense potential. This decision to implement the direct taxes was not made in isolation; rather, it was the result of careful consideration and recommendations from the Steering Committee on FinTech and related issues. Let’s delve deeper into how AI is reshaping India’s taxation landscape:

  • Enhanced Efficiency: AI brings automation to various aspects of tax processing. It can handle repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as data entry, document processing, and data analysis, with remarkable speed and precision. By automating these processes, tax officials can work with larger volumes of data faster and more accurately than ever before.
  • Reduction of Human Errors: One of the significant advantages of AI in taxation is its ability to minimize human errors. Tax calculations, data entry, and document classification can be prone to mistakes when done manually. AI algorithms, on the other hand, can perform these tasks with a high degree of accuracy, reducing the risk of errors in tax assessments.
  • Improved Transparency: AI systems in taxation are designed to be transparent and explainable. This means that tax professionals and taxpayers can understand how the AI arrives at its conclusions. The ability to trace the decision-making process enhances transparency in the tax system, building trust among stakeholders.
  • Detection of Tax Evasion: Tax evasion is a significant challenge in India. AI-enabled systems have the capability to scan through vast datasets and identify irregularities or patterns indicative of tax fraud. By leveraging criteria such as employment status, audit history, and other relevant factors, AI can help tax authorities detect tax evasion more efficiently.
  • Transparent Taxation Platform: In 2020, the Indian government introduced the ‘Transparent Taxation Platform,’ which relies on data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. This platform aims to simplify tax compliance, reward honest taxpayers, and reduce tax fraud. It represents a landmark in the history of tax administration, emphasizing the government’s commitment to leveraging technology for better tax governance.
  • Potential for Bias Reduction: AI systems can be programmed to be impartial and objective, reducing the potential for bias in tax assessments. This helps ensure that taxpayers are treated fairly and equitably, regardless of their background or circumstances.
  • Rapid Data Processing: AI can process large volumes of transactions and data within seconds, a task that would take human tax practitioners significantly more time. This frees up tax professionals to focus on value-added activities, such as devising effective tax strategies and providing better support to taxpayers.

Trends in Tax Collection

While India has made progress in tax collection, there is still room for improvement. The tax-to-GDP ratio in 2016 stood at 16.6 percent, lower than the emerging market economy and OECD averages. The direct-to-indirect tax ratio also differs significantly from OECD economies, highlighting the need for reforms.

Measures to Address Taxation Issues

Several recommendations have been proposed to enhance India’s tax system, including widening the taxpayer base, merging key tax bodies, establishing effective dispute settlement mechanisms, and tracking cash-based economic activities.

Automation in Taxation

AI can automate repetitive processes, such as data entry and document processing, reducing processing times and minimizing corruption in tax payments. It can classify and filter documents accurately, simplifying the tax payment process.

Auditing with AI

Tax evasion is a significant issue, but AI can assist by scanning large datasets to detect fraud. The Indian government’s ‘Transparent Taxation Platform’ leverages data analytics, AI, and machine learning to curb tax fraud and enhance tax administration.

Barriers to AI Adoption

Despite the potential benefits, there are obstacles to AI adoption in taxation. Unstructured data and the lack of standardized processes hinder AI’s effectiveness. Moreover, concerns about the “black box” nature of AI algorithms have led to a demand for explainable AI, where the decision-making process can be reviewed and understood.

The Path Forward

Explainable AI is essential to build trust in AI-driven tax systems. Tax professionals need to understand how AI algorithms arrive at their conclusions. This transparency allows for course correction and continuous improvement.

VDOIT’s AI/ML Offering for Taxation

VDOIT, a leading AI solutions provider, offers a range of tools, including an intelligent virtual assistant, scheduling assistant, and intelligent content generator, that can assist Indian tax authorities in their efforts to modernize the taxation system.

In conclusion, the integration of AI and machine learning in India’s taxation system is a promising step forward. It has the potential to streamline processes, reduce corruption, revenue generation and enhance overall efficiency. While challenges exist, a commitment to transparency and standardized data handling can overcome these hurdles, ushering in a new era of taxation in India.