Worry lines for Modi govt: Direct tax collection could fall short by Rs 65,000 crore

By: | Published: February 5, 2019 6:19 AM

If the historical mop-up trend serves any guidance, some 65% of the annual direct taxes get collected in the first nine months of a fiscal year and the balance in the fourth quarter.

Interim Budget, Direct tax collection, Modi govt, gross tax revenue, personal income tax, personal income tax collections, corporation taxThe Interim Budget presented on Friday estimated CIT collection to grow 17.5% in FY19 compared with last fiscal, while PIT is estimated to rise 27% (REs).

While the Interim Budget estimate of 13.5% growth in gross tax revenue for FY20 — this is to come on a robust base of 17.2% growth in FY19 (revised estimate or RE) — appears a bit too optimistic, the collection this year could turn out to be Rs 65,000 crore or 5.45% less than the RE, on account of the possible shortfalls in direct taxes alone.

If the historical mop-up trend serves any guidance, some 65% of the annual direct taxes get collected in the first nine months of a fiscal year and the balance in the fourth quarter. That means the personal income tax (PIT) collections in Q4FY19 could be Rs 1,85,150 crore, some Rs 52,000 crore less than what the revised estimate requires. Similarly, the corporation tax (CIT) may witness a shortfall of Rs 13,000 crore against the RE.

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According to the data released by the Controller General of Accounts on Monday, the CIT collections (net of refunds but before devolution to states) in April-December FY19 stood at Rs 4,27,481 crore, while the PIT collections during the period was Rs 3,02,164 crore. The shortfall in gross tax collection (net of refunds to taxpayers bit before devolution to states) could reflect in the Centre’s net tax revenue as well; assuming other budget numbers will hold good, this will increase the fiscal deficit from the RE level of 3.4% of the gross domestic product.

Fiscal deficit in the first nine months of the fiscal, as per Monday’s CGA data, came in at 112.4% of FY19 BE and 110.6% of FY19 RE. Commenting on the CGA data, Devendra Kumar Pant, chief economist at India Ratings and Research said, “The pressure is more visible on the revenue side rather than on the expenditure side. In order to meet FY19 (RE), monthly revenue receipts during January-March 2019 has to be 1.8x of average monthly collections in 9MFY19, which appears difficult to achieve.”

The Interim Budget presented on Friday estimated CIT collection to grow 17.5% in FY19 compared with last fiscal, while PIT is estimated to rise 27% (REs). If these estimates are achieved, direct tax to GDP would be 6.3% — the highest in 11 years since 2007-08.

The possibility of shortfall against the REs is not limited to CIT and PIT; even though the GST collections are estimated to be Rs 1 lakh crore less than the budget estimate in the RE, even this revised estimate could be hard to meet.

owever, experts said that tax officials have a time-tested practice of nudging bigger taxpayers in their respective jurisdictions to pay more taxes for a particular period to meet high targets. This excess amount is then adjusted in the next period while the target is shown to be achieved for the concerned period.

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