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Govt may exceed direct tax collection target of FY18 Budget estimates

Buoyed by the 18.2 per cent rise in direct tax collections in the first nine months of fiscal year 2017-18, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is confident about achieving its collection target for the current financial year. The apex body has even set itself a target of crossing the Rs 10-trillion milestone. The Union Budget had estimated direct tax collection at Rs 9.8 trillion for the current financial year, which was internally raised by Rs 200 billion in the last quarter, sources said.
“As things stand now, we will definitely reach the collection target. The collection, under all categories such as personal tax, advance tax, and tax deduction at source (TDS), are showing good results,” said a senior CBDT official. Official data revealed net direct tax collection surged 18.2 per cent year-on-year to Rs 6.56 trillion during the April-December period. This is 67 per cent of the full-year direct tax collection target. Net tax collection stood at Rs 5.54 trillion in the corresponding period the previous year, which represented 65.3 per cent of the total direct tax collections in FY17.
To achieve the Rs 9.8-trillion budgeted target, tax collections need to grow at 10.6 per cent in the March quarter. A confident income tax (I-T) department thinks it is achievable as the 18.2 per cent growth in the first nine months has considerably boosted its morale, the sources said.
The CBDT had a meeting last week with tax sleuths across the country to discuss measures so that the current momentum of collection can be maintained. The CBDT is said to have asked all principal and chief commissioners of 18 jurisdictions to come up with innovative techniques and achieve the target.
Taxmen have been asked to stress on cash collection out of tax arrears and current tax demand raised by the tax department. Data stated that only 25 per cent of tax arrears had been collected so far from the total annual revenue collection.
Similarly, the tax department has achieved only 1.5 per cent of revenue demand raised against the overall target of 20 per cent. The CBDT has categorically directed its tax officials to be aggressive on advance tax and TDS (tax deducted at source) payers and start enquiring about the status of the payments.
Further, tax officials have been asked to dispose of high tax demand cases so that they are confirmed and then enforced collection in a time-bound manner. Tax officials were told to attach property/assets of tax evaders, and fast-track the auction of property, wherever applicable.
On the scrutiny front, the CBDT wants the I-T department to identify and pursue more cases under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, which could help them catch domestic tax evaders. According to the orders, tax officials will now conduct extensive operations, especially in cases identified after demonetisation.