With sustained efforts by the government, the number of taxpayers in the country has risen to 5.7 crore for assessment year (AY) 2016-17 from the 5.43 crore seen last year, revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia told FE. There were 4.88 crore taxpayers in the country in AY2013-14.
“We are using a lot of technology and giving earlier refunds. This year, we tried to finish all assessments early and give refunds expeditiously so that the backlog is reduced,” said the secretary.
Separately, the finance ministry’s annual report said that “tax base” rose from 6.5 crore at the end of FY14 to 6.86 crore by FY15-end, an addition of 76 lakh people.
The tax base is defined as the number of persons who have either filed income tax returns or in whose case tax has reportedly been paid or deducted.
With more than 95% returns being filed online, it becomes easier for the I-T department to process it within a short span of time. The department has issued 2.10 crore refunds totalling over Rs 1.22 lakh crore in 2015-16, which saw 94% of the returns being filed online. In 2014-15, Rs 1,12,188 crore was paid as refunds and Rs 89,664 crore in 2013-14.
“We do not want to be forcibly collect tax from anybody. But we do not want our officers to be lazy also. They need to be alert and see if there are any taxes due, they will have to finish assessments on time. And they will have to raise demand and refunds on time,” said Adhia.
Both the Central Board of Director Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) are making optimum use of technology for expeditious disposal of assessment and refunds as well as for addressing the issues relating to custom clearance and facilitating trade among others. As regards indirect tax collections, the indirect tax to GDP ratio was about 5.17% compared with 4.36% for 2014-15.
SWIFT, or Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade, acts as a single-point interface for over 50 offices of six government agencies for clearance of Exim goods and reduces documentation and costs, thereby benefiting over 97% of India’s imports.