An employee and a customer handle Indian Rupee banknote. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Number Of People Filing Income Tax Returns Up 50% To 6.08 Crore, Says CBDT

The number of people filing income tax returns has increased by 50 percent to 6.08 crore so far in the assessment year 2018-19 compared to the year-ago period, a top official said on Tuesday.

Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman Sushil Chandra exuded confidence that the Revenue Department would achieve direct tax collection target of Rs 11.5 lakh crore for the current financial year ending March 31, 2019.

"Demonetisation has been very good for increasing the tax base of the country. So far this year (assessment year 2018-19), we have already got around 6.08 crore returns which is 50 percent higher than last year by this particular date.

"So this is the effect of demonetisation," he said.

However, he did not mention the exact date when the filings touched 6.08 crore. In Nov. 2016, the government cancelled old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as legal tenders as part of larger efforts to curb illicit fund flows.

Our gross direct tax growth rate is 16.5 percent and net direct tax growth rate is 14.5 percent, which itself shows that demonetisation really helped in widening and deepening of tax base.
Sushil Chandra, Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes

"As on date, total direct tax mop up stood at 48 per cent of the Budget estimate," he said. He also said the number corporate tax payers have gone up to 8 lakh as a result of demonetisation.

Speaking at an event organised by Confederation of Indian Industry, Chandra said the CBDT has so far given 2.27 crore refunds during the 2018-19 assessment year, which is 50 percent higher than the same period a year ago.

In the last four years, India's tax base has gone up by 80 percent, he added.

Noting that the government was committed to reduce corporate tax rate, he said, "our tax compliance should be good so that the government is in a position to reduce the (corporate) tax rate.”

Also read: 75 Lakh New Tax Filers Added To Income Tax Net This Fiscal Year: Official

The CBDT, the apex policy making body for direct taxes, plans to provide e-Permanent Account Number within four hours of receiving an application.

"We are putting a new system in place. After a year or so, we will be giving PAN in four hours. You will have to give Aadhaar identity and you will get e-PAN in four hours," Chandra said.

According to him, so far this year more than 70,000 cases have been done online without calling assessees to tax offices. The CBDT has also sent out two crore SMS to people who had not filed returns or those whose income did not match with their filings.

Replying to a question on seizure Rs 25 crore cash from vaults in Chandni Chowk area in the national capital, Chandra said the department was trying to find out whether the money was deposited in the vaults after proper Know Your Customer scrutiny.

On Monday, the Income Tax Department seized over Rs 25 crore cash after surveying a 300-safes strong private vault in the Chandni Chowk area.