Close to Rs 10,000 crore appears to have been adjusted against such demands even as the related disputes are pending before appellate authorities, and do not result in any immediate cash release.
Cases that have been adjusted for existing demand are most likely to be disputed again if the pleas of taxpayers are upheld, an official pointed out.
Expediting refunds of up to Rs 5 lakh was announced as part of the government’s policy initiative to
fight the economic
impact of Covid.
As of May 21, refunds of at least Rs 52,491 crore, in about 40,000 cases, are those pertaining to cases either picked up for scrutiny or pending at the end of assessing officers and awaiting approval.
Of those, about Rs 36,155 crore of refunds is stuck because these cases have been picked up for scrutiny.
The moment a case is picked up for scrutiny, the refund is blocked. About Rs 16,336 crore of refunds, involving 20,500 cases, is pending at the assessing officers’ end.
“There has been no administrative instruction to clear refunds for cases picked up for scrutiny or the ones pending at the assessing officers’ end. That is making up for the bulk of the refunds,” said a government official.
Low refund means net direct tax
collection may rise even as gross collection stays weak. Refunds of Rs 6,772 crore were disbursed in April. That is only a third of the Rs 18,474 crore released in the corresponding period of 2019-20.
Due to that, direct tax
collection, net of refunds, grew by 36.5 per cent, even as gross collection contracted by 5.4 per cent in April. Amit Maheshwari, tax partner, AKM Global, said broad-basing taxpayers in terms of releasing refunds would provide a much-needed liquidity boost to taxpayers. “The government should quickly release refunds even in cases where scrutiny assessments are going on,” he said.