New Delhi: Filing of income-tax returns hit a new record, with a peak filing rate of 196 returns per second on Saturday, the final due date for filing, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said.
There has been a sharp increase in filing returns closer to and on the due date because of pre-filled forms and other steps taken by the tax department, leading to 56.5 million returns filed so far for assessment year 2019-20, CBDT said in a statement on Sunday.
Filing of tax returns surged 41% on the last date to 4.9 million filings in assessment year 2019-20 from the previous year as the department offered pre-filled forms as well as guidance to taxpayers through social media, CBDT said. Since 27 August, e-filing of returns has risen 32-63% compared to the corresponding days a year ago, CBDT said. In the last five days, the tax department saw 14.7 million e-filings, a 42% rise from the year earlier.
The total returns filed so far this fiscal, however, is only 4% higher than the 54 million filed a year ago. Returns could be filed even after the due date till the end of the fiscal in which the return is to be filed, with a fine, and the final figure could go up further. The tax department’s online filing portal did not witness any disruption this year as it has been trying to make voluntary compliance easier and reduce the interface between taxpayers and officials.
The department was criticized by industry leaders after a letter attributed to Café Coffee Day founder V.G. Siddhartha, who was recently found dead, claimed that he was under pressure from one of the private equity investors and had faced harassment from a tax official. The department has refuted the charges. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman who met tax officials in Chennai on Sunday, told reporters that tax collection targets for this fiscal were realistic and that there was no need for any overreach by officials to mobilize revenue receipts.
Tax compliance has historically been low in India, with only 74.1 million total direct taxpayers in a country of over 1.3 billion people. A new direct tax legislation being worked upon by the government is likely to introduce steps to add more taxpayers and make the provisions of the law simpler and easy to interpret.