The Union government’s drive towards higher compliance has already helped it garner additional Rs 1.5 lakh crore in direct taxes during 2017-18 and get a record number of new filers. But it is not done yet with the tax department chasing 65 lakh people who it suspects did not file returns last year as it hopes to expand the taxpayer base to over 9.3 crore.
The taxpayer base includes those who file returns in addition to those with tax deducted at source (TDS), tax collected at source (TCS), advance tax payments, self-assessment tax and dividend distribution tax during the previous three financial years. The efforts, including text messages and email campaigns, have helped the government expand the taxpayer base with the authorities expecting an addition of over 1.5 crore new entities during 2017-18 and expanding the base, net of exits by over 12 per cent.
Officials told TOI said that a large part of this increase will be on account of 1.07 crore individuals who filed their returns for the first time in 2017-18, which the government believes is partly driven by the demonetisation drive in 2016 that prompted people to disclose higher income. On last count, the government had mopped up Rs over Rs 10 lakh crore as direct taxes, compared to a shade under Rs 8.5 lakh crore in 2016-17.
But there are many, who despite several reminders, have not filed their returns and are on the radar as part of the work programme for the current financial year, said an officer. An analysis by the department has shown that of the nearly 6.8 crore returns filed in 2017-18, nearly a fifth related to previous years as was the case earlier too. Separately, officials said, the text messages and emails were targeted at close to 1.75 crore “potential assessees” of which 1.07 crore have voluntarily filed returns so far. Going by this measure too, the numbers add up.