Direct tax mop-up reaches Rs 11.5 trn against revised target of Rs 12 trn

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At the close of the fiscal year 2018-19, direct tax collection touched Rs 11.5 trillion late Sunday evening, leaving a gap of Rs 50,000 crore against the revised revenue target of Rs 12 trillion. While the previous revenue target was Rs 11.5 trillion, it was revised upwards to Rs 12 trillion subsequently. 

The collection figures are expected to go up as tax collection continues till midnight, said a government official in the know.

The figures are quite encouraging, compared to last week’s. As of March 26, direct tax collectionstood at Rs 10.29 trillion (85.1 per cent of the collection target), of which collection under personal tax was at over Rs 4 trillion, while corporate tax reached Rs 6 trillion. 

According to the official, the final figures would help the government move closer to the fiscal deficit (the gap between the government’s revenue and expenditure) target of 3.4 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product set for FY19. The deficit has exceeded the target by 34.2 per cent till February 2019.

While the final tally is likely to be notified by the Central Board of Direct Taxes this week, after the compilation of the collections all across the jurisdiction, Mumbai — which contributes one-third of the collection numbers — is lagging behind by Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 15,000 crore, said another source. 

The income-tax (I-T) offices had remained open on Saturday and Sunday as the tax department was facilitating filing of tax returns by opening additional receipt counters. 

“Achieving the target was challenging this time, as advance tax collection for the fourth quarter ended on March 15 did not fetch the desired outcome,” said an assessing officer, citing that some of the core sectors did not do well in this fiscal year. Economic growth is officially projected to fall to 7 per cent in FY19, the lowest in the five years of the Narendra Modi government. 

Fearing tax slippage, tax officials are learnt to have nudged banks to cough up tax deducted from interest on deposit, salaries and so on. 

The tax department had written to all public sector units (PSUs), especially large oil companies and banks, to pay tax deducted from source well in advance, so that the amount is reflected in the current fiscal year. The tax officials are learnt to have also asked some PSUs to shell out more advance taxes to be adjusted in the next fiscal year. 

The tax department has been in aggressive mode as collection from the goods and services tax (GST) has been remained a concern for the government, said a tax expert. 

This year, 1,000 notices have been also issued under Section 148 to people caught evading taxes by underestimating their earnings. 

The department this time has also sent notices to advance taxpayers after the March 15 deadline saying no penalty will be charged, if they make payment by the end of this month, added the tax expert. 

Besides, the department had filed hundreds of prosecution cases, showed double-digit growth as compared to the last two-three years. The department proactively pursued cases where tax arrears were due. Meeting the fiscal deficit target would also depend on more revenues from disinvestment, higher non-tax revenues, including dividend from public sector enterprises, and interim dividend from the Reserve Bank of India, besides compression of expenditure.

Meanwhile, I-T refunds worth more than Rs 1.56 trillion have been issued to taxpayers, which are 11 per cent more than the last year’s payout by the tax department.

The increase of Rs 50,000 crore in the interim Budget 2019-20 has made the task of achieving the revised target difficult for the tax department. Pressure mounted when the government has pegged the GST collection target at Rs 11.47 trillion in the current fiscal year. The GST collections in the current fiscal year till February totalled Rs 10.70 trillion. The numbers for the GST for March are slated to come on Monday.

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