New Delhi: Worries over sluggish economic growth and slack tax collections have led the finance ministry to exhort tax officials to make an all-out effort in the remaining months of the fiscal to meet revenue targets without harassing taxpayers.
“Revenue secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey had a meeting with members of the boards—CBIC (Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs) and CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes), principal chief commissioners and chief commissioners and other senior officers on Monday and told them that the GST (goods and services tax) target is ₹1.10 trillion for each of the next four collection months. The target is ₹1.25 trillion for one out of these four months," a finance ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
Sluggish consumption has aggravated the economic downturn, with GDP growth slowing to a six-and-a-half-year low of 4.5% in the September quarter. The GST Council meeting on Wednesday will explore measures to raise revenue receipts, including raising cess on some goods, and ways to curb evasion.
The revenue department has also told direct tax officials that the corporate tax relief should not be used as an excuse for lower collections. “Officers must exhort themselves to reach the target of ₹13.5 trillion in direct taxes as well," the official said. “Senior officers, including members of boards, CBIC and CBDT, principal chief commissioners and chief commissioners, and other field machinery are urged to make field visits on a regular basis every week. The revenue secretary, despite pressures of budget preparation, will himself be visiting across regions every weekend to monitor collection efforts."
As of mid-November, the Centre had mopped up ₹6 trillion in direct taxes, which is less than 50% of the direct tax collection target. GST collections have also been weak, falling short of the target amid the economic slowdown. In a relief of sorts, GST collections in November rose 6% to ₹1.03 trillion from a year earlier, after falling in September and October.
The revenue department has also decided to share data from GST returns with the income-tax department, so that cases of any suppression of turnover and income-tax can be detected. “Further, a drive will also be conducted to recover past arrears during the next three months," said the official. Companies and traders have been advised to ask suppliers to file their GST returns in time, failing which buyers may not be able to get input tax credits on those supplies for which tax has not been paid by their suppliers, the official said.