New Delhi: By the time the current fiscal ends in March, Income Tax return filings for the assessment year 2019-20 could be higher than the 56.5 million reported at the end of the due date August 31 if past trends are anything to go by.
Data available with the Income Tax department showed that the number of return filings by due date account for roughly four-fifth of the total returns filed by the end of March in a fiscal. That suggests the total number of e-return to be filed by March could go up to 69.7 million. In FY19, the department received 54.2 million returns by the due date, which swelled up to 66.8 million by March 2019, data from the department showed.
This, however, does not represent the total direct tax base, which also includes those who have their taxes deducted at source by their employers for payment to government on behalf of their workers. In assessment year 2017-18 itself, this had scaled to 74.1 million.
On Saturday alone, the due date for filing returns this year, the department received 4.9 million returns, showing a 41% surge in the filings received on the same date a year ago, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said on Sunday. In the last five days, the tax department saw 14.7 million e-filings, a 42% rise from the year earlier.
The surge in tax filings comes in the wake of efforts by the government to keep closer watch on transactions taking place in the economy through measures like tax deducted at source while making payments, restrictions on use of cash in favour of digital transactions and linking of Aadhaar with the Permanent Account Number (PAN) used for filing tax returns.
These measures, along with the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), has brought more transactions within the radar of direct and indirect tax authorities. Transactions give an idea to tax officials about the assets and the income level of assessees, which make it hard to under report income. Direct and indirect tax authorities are now increasingly working closer and share data to widen the tax base. A new direct tax code, which is under the government’s consideration, is expected to bring more measures to add new taxpayers. However, the sharp slowdown in economic growth rate that affects jobs and income levels could take away some of the gains in return filing growth seen in the recent years.