The tax department today said the number of individuals filing income tax returns has jumped to 2.79 crore this year from 2.23 crore last year, matching with the 56 lakh new tax payer addition stated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The statement by the tax department follows some doubting the numbers over different figures quoted at different points of time. “The Prime Minister’s speech (on August 15) referred to the increase in number of e-filed Personal Income Tax Returns (ITRs) filed from April 1, 2017 to August 5, 2017 over the ITRs filed in corresponding period of earlier years. “The data maintained by the Income Tax Department shows that during April 1, 2017 to August 5, 2017, 2.79 crore e- returns of individual taxpayers were received as against 2.23 crore e-returns received during April 1, 2016 to August 5, 2016. Thus, the additional ITRs received in 2017 works out to be 56 lakh,” CBDT said in a statement.
In 2015, 2 crore e-returns were received. This meant that 23 lakh additional tax payers filed returns in 2016. A top finance ministry official said the people are trying to find fault where none lies. “The CBDT had in a press statement on August 7 released the very same numbers and what the Prime Minister said in his independence day speech was exactly in line with that,” he said. Regarding the Economic Survey Vol.2 released on August 12, mentioning of 5.4 lakh new taxpayers, he said on page-22 of the report it is clearly stated that the numbers are for the period November 8, 2016 to March 2017. “This means they are the additions made in tax payers post demonetisation in the previous year.”
On the 33 lakh new taxpayer number given in reply to a question in Rajya Sabha on August 1, he said that information was dated and not the complete information, which came only after the last date of filing of returns ended on August 5. “There is no inconsistency in the data provided by the Government in the (different) statements… as these are in different contexts and for different time periods,” the tax department statement said.
On Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s May 17 statement, the CBDT said: “The addition of 91 lakh taxpayers to the tax-base referred to the total number of new returns filed during the entire financial year 2016-17 and therefore, it is neither comparable to the data in Prime Minister’s speech nor with the data in Economic Survey (different period and different type of taxpayers).” It added that the number of tax filers is likely to “rise significantly” above the 2.79 crore returns e-filed as “many more taxpayers are still to file their returns”.