Direct tax mop-up falls short by record Rs 1.45 trn of revised estimates

According to a senior revenue official, the massive shortfall can be attributed to the overall economic slump, besides corporate tax rate cuts, the Vivaad se Vishwas tax settlement scheme proving to be a non-starter, and the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown
The central government collected Rs 10.27 trillion as direct taxes during 2019-20, a record shortfall of Rs 1.45 trillion, or 12.2 per cent, compared with the revised estimates (RE). This may prompt the revenue department, under the finance ministry, to reset its Budget math for 2020-21, official sources said. 

According to a senior revenue official, the massive shortfall can be attributed to the overall economic slump, besides corporate tax rate cuts, the Vivaad se Vishwas tax settlement scheme proving to be a non-starter, and the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown. 

Official figures showed that the gross amount collected under direct taxes as of March 31 was Rs 12.11 trillion. This included the tax refunds outgo to the tune of Rs 1.83 trillion. The net collection, thus, stood at Rs 10.27 trillion, as against the revised estimates of Rs 11.70 trillion. 

Of this, the Centre has received Rs 5.56 trillion as corporation tax and Rs 4.58 trillion as personal income tax. Other small taxes such as securities transaction tax (STT) constitute the rest. The direct tax collections were lower than those in the previous two years. The figures could see a slight correction as some banks are yet to submit their collection receipts, but this would not make much of a difference, said the official cited above.

The shortfall as percentage of the RE for FY20 is the highest in recent history. It was 5.3 per cent in 2018-19. In the earlier crisis period of 2008-09, it was 7.5 per cent. In the Union Budget 2020-21, the government had revised the tax collection target downwards to Rs 11.70 trillion for FY20, from Rs 13.35 trillion projected earlier.  The government had rationalised the tax collections targets, noting the revenue forgone on account of the reduced corporation tax rate would be Rs 1.45 trillion. 

Mumbai, which contributes about 37 per cent to the tax revenues, witnessed a significant drop of 10 per cent compared with the RE. It collected Rs 3.09 trillion against the revised target of Rs 4.29 trillion, leaving a huge gap of Rs 1.20 trillion. Similarly, the national capital, New Delhi, saw a drop of over 8 per cent, followed by Bengaluru, which also saw a fall of over 5 per cent.  

The shortfall may widen the Centre’s fiscal deficit, which is pegged at 3.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the current financial year, said a government source. The fiscal deficit surpassed the Budget target for FY20 by 35 per cent in absolute terms by February. However, the focus of the government is now not on the economic situation but to arrest the Covid-19 outbreak, which has halted almost every economic activity.



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