Number of people paying income tax jumps by over 22% after war on black money

At a time the Narendra Modi government is turning the heat on tax evaders, data shows that the number of income tax returns filed in the last financial year has increased substantially. According to a report, the number of people who filed tax returns surged by 95 lakhs.

It could be noted that the taxpayers account for around 3 per cent of India’s population, thus this jump in individual taxpayers is substantial when compared with the previous years’ figures.

The figure was presented before Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a review meeting of the Revenue Department on 2 May. The meeting was convened to review the work of Revenue Department, under the Finance Ministry, with specific focus on taxation matters and initiatives against black money. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia were among those present during the review.

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Data suggests that there is a whopping 22 per cent jump in online filing of income tax returns in comparison to the previous financial year. Around 5.28 crore returns were e-filed in FY16. Rest of the returns were filed in paper mode.

The Centre’s tax collections in the financial year 2016-17 grew by to Rs 17.10 lakh crore. The robust revenue collections have raised hopes for the government to rein in the fiscal deficit.

As part of its transparency drive, the government is going all out to catch the tax evaders. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the policy making body of the Income Tax Department, has drawn up an action plan for 2016-17 to widen the tax net. The Income-Tax Department has launched Operation Clean Money/Swachh Dhan Abhiyan to crackdown against tax evaders.

The Income Tax Department found that around 18 lakh people made ‘suspicious’ cash deposits after the 8 November demonetisation announcement. In addition, the I-T Department also unearthed details of the high-value purchases during the period.

Operation Clean Money is a programming software used to get answers on all the deposits made during the demonetisation period. The Operation Clean Money data is being used to identify tax evaders.

Further, this report suggests that the Income Tax Department has charted a plan to broaden national taxpayer base and improve tax collection through effective utilisation of information. The I-T Department has devised a region-specific plan to track transactions by individuals without valid permanent account number (PAN). The CBDT has directed taxmen in every region to pursue potential taxpayers who escape the tax net. It has asked its officials to collect details on high-value transactions from annual information reports (AIR) and stressed on efficient handling of those pieces of information.

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