The Centre has “broadly met” its tax collection targets for 2017-18, despite uncertainty from the Goods and Services Tax and is meeting the fiscal deficit target without any major expenditure cuts.
“On the whole, 2017-18 was very good. We have broadly met the direct tax and indirect tax target and are confident of meeting the fiscal deficit,” Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said on Monday.
The Centre had targeted a fiscal deficit of 3.2 per cent of the GDP in the Budget Estimate for 2017-18 and had later eased it to 3.5 per cent of the GDP in the Revised Estimate.
Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said, “With almost all of revenues and expenditure accounted for (some minor accounting adjustments remaining), I can confirm that both fiscal deficit and revenue deficit are lower than the Revised Estimates for 2017-18.” The final figures of the fiscal and revenue deficit will be available later in the year, once all figures for the government accounts are collated.
Net direct tax collections touched ₹9.95 lakh crore in 2017-18, which is 17.1 per cent higher than the previous fiscal.
“We have already met the Budget Estimate of ₹9.8 lakh crore for direct tax in 2017-18,” said Sushil Chandra, Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes, adding that the Revised Estimate will also be met.
While net corporate tax collections increased by 17.1 per cent, the mop-up from personal income tax rose by 18.9 per cent.
Gross direct tax collections amounted to ₹11.44 lakh crore and refunds of ₹1.49 lakh crore were issued in 2017-18.
As many as 6.84 crore income tax returns were filed in 2017-18,registering a 26 per cent increase from the 5.43 crore returns filed in the previous fiscal. New income tax return filers increased to 99.49 lakh.
Even for indirect taxes, the Finance Secretary expressed confidence of meeting the targets.
In fact, despite a rocky start, GST collections have reached 98 per cent of the Revised Estimates, Adhia said, adding that monthly collections are now stabilising around ₹90,000 crore.
“GST collections will pick up further as tax authorities are now getting a sense of who all are filing returns and paying taxes,” he added. According to Finance Ministry data, a total of ₹7,17,638 crore was collected as GST between August 2017 and March 2018. Besides, another ₹27,811 crore was collected as Integrated GST and cess on imports in March.
Meanwhile, tax officials have also cleared ₹36,129.25 crore of refunds to exporters (inclusive of IGST, input tax credit, duty drawback and RoSL).
Expressing satisfaction over the processing of claims during the refund fortnight, Vanaja N Sarna, Chairperson, Central Board of Excise and Customs, said that major problems of exporters have been sorted out. “90 per cent of all eligible IGST claims have been approved,” she said.
In all, about ₹24,800 crore of refund applications were pending.
According to official figures, ₹9,604 crore of IGST refunds, ₹5,510 crore of input tax refunds, ₹16,680 crore of duty drawback and ₹1,833 crore of RoSL were processed in 2017-18.