With tax targets looking out of reach amid slowing revenue stream and the economic slowdown, the Revenue Department under the Finance Ministry has exhorted both direct and indirect tax officers to achieve targets without troubling the taxpayers. With only four months left to meet the overall target, Goods and Services Tax (GST) target has been set at Rs 4.55 lakh crore (Rs 1.10 lakh crore for three months each and Rs 1.25 lakh crore in one month), while direct tax officials have to collect Rs 7.78 lakh crore during the same period.
Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey is learnt to have held a video conference meeting with senior officials of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) along with senior field officials on Monday, wherein the GST target for the next four months was detailed. Officers were also told that the impact of corporate tax cut worth Rs 1.45 lakh crore “should not be taken as an excuse” for lower direct tax collection target, an official said.
Senior officials including Principal Chief Commissioners and Chief Commissioners have been asked to make field visits on a regular basis every week, the official said. Information will also be shared between GST and income tax authorities to detect cases of tax evasion and recover the due amount of tax. “Information of GST and income tax and other financial dealings will be shared and the tax evaders will be brought to book. If any taxpayer has missed out on sharing correct tax information, s/he will be asked to file the revised return. Efforts are to exhort officers at all levels to maximise tax collection at the same time ensuring that genuine taxpayers are not troubled or harassed,” the official said, adding that a drive will also be conducted to recover past arrears during the next three months.
Both direct and indirect tax collections have been slowing over the last few months, raising concerns for both states and Centre. Barring November, GST collection contracted for the previous two months, which even led to delayed compensation payments to states. The GST Council is set to meet on Wednesday to discuss revenue augmentation measures.
Low tax mop-up is a cause of concern for Centre, states
With just four months remaining in the current financial year and tax collections lagging behind the budget estimates, the Finance Ministry has exhorted tax officers to achieve targets of both direct and indirect taxes, with the rider that officers do not “trouble” taxpayers in the process. The GST target has been set at Rs 4.55 lakh crore for these four months, while direct tax officials staring at the onerous task of collecting Rs 7.78 lakh crore, or 58.2 per cent of the Budget target during this period. Collection of past arrears and matching of income tax data with GST data are some of the measures which would also be undertaken as the government struggles to meet its targets. The recent corporate tax cut and flagging economic growth are expected to compound the challenge.
Centre’s share in GST has also been behind targets, with the Central GST collection during April-November falling short of the budget estimate by nearly 40 per cent. Central GST collections stood at Rs 3,28,365 crore during April-November as against the Budget estimate of Rs 5,26,000 crore for these months, as per the data presented in the Parliament. Direct tax collections have also not fared any better, with only 41.7 per cent or Rs 5.56 lakh crore of the total target of Rs 13.35 lakh crore collected during April-November, the first eight months of the financial year, government data showed. As per the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) tax data, available for April-October, gross tax revenue needs to grow at a run rate of 35.4 per cent and net tax revenue needs to grow at a steep 47.3 per cent in the remaining five months of this fiscal.
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