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Govt measures, I-T efforts raise tax-GDP ratio to 10-year high

A sharp rise in the number of Income-Tax returns filed and an increase in the number of taxpayers have widened and deepened the tax base during the last three assessment years, which in turn has seen the direct tax-GDP ratio touch a decadal high of almost 6 per cent.
Legislative and administrative measures, combined with enforcement efforts by the Tax Department to check tax evasion, have meant that the average tax paid by corporates has jumped 55 per cent to Rs 49.95 lakh in 2016-17 compared with Rs 32.28 lakh in 2013-14.
In the case of individuals, the average tax paid has increased by 26 per cent to Rs 58,576 in 2016-17 from Rs 46,377 in 2013-14, according to data released Monday by the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
The Tax Department data also show better compliance among salaried taxpayers vis-à-vis non-salaried taxpayers. During the three-year period (2013-14 to 2016-17), the number of salaried taxpayers increased from 1.70 crore to to 2.33 crore, a growth of 37 per cent. The average income declared by salaried taxpayers rose by 19 per cent to Rs 6.84 lakh from Rs 5.76 lakh during the same period.
The number of non-salaried individual taxpayers grew 19 per cent to 2.33 crore from 1.95 crore and the average non-salary income declared increased by 27 per cent to Rs 5.23 lakh in 2016-17 from Rs 4.11 lakh in 2013-14.
The number of taxpayers disclosing gross total income above Rs 1 crore rose 16.7 per cent year-on-year to 1.40 lakh in financial year 2016-17, according to the data.
Over a three-year period from the financial year 2013-14, a growth of 60 per cent has been recorded for the number of total taxpayers (including corporates, firms, Hindu Undivided Families, individuals) disclosing income above Rs 1 crore. In the individual taxpayers category, a 68 per cent growth was registered in 2016-17 to 81,344 from 48,416 in 2013-14.
Making an yearly comparison, taxpayers showing gross total income above Rs 1 crore grew by 16.7 per cent in 2016-17, higher than the growth of 10.9 per cent shown in 2015-16 but lower than the 22.2 per cent growth seen in 2014-15.
The number of returns filed also increased to 6.85 crore in 2017-18 from 5.57 crore in 2016-17 and 3.79 crore in 2013-14. The number of taxpayers increased to 7.41 crore in financial year 2016-17 from 6.92 crore in 2015-16 and 5.71 crore in 2013-14. Taxpayers, as defined by CBDT, include “persons who have filed a return of income for the relevant Assessment Year or in whose case tax has been deducted at source in the relevant Financial Year but the taxpayer has not filed the return of income”.
CBDT Chairman Sushil Chandra said the rise in compliance is the result of many non-intrusive administrative and enforcement measures taken by the Tax Department. Explaining one of the measures, Chandra said that last year, the Department had analysed data on the purchase of properties worth over Rs 1 crore, and asked taxpayers to pay the advance tax on time.
“The total number of taxpayers (corporates, firms, HUFs among others) showing income of above Rs 1 crore has registered a sharp increase over the three-year horizon. While 88,649 taxpayers had disclosed income above Rs 1 crore in assessment year 2014-15, the figure was 1,40,139 for AY 2017-18, which is a growth of about 60 per cent,” the CBDT said.
A closer look at the data reveals that while 14,068 individuals paid tax exceeding Rs 1 crore in 2016-17 as against 11,123 individuals in 2015-16, only four individuals paid tax exceeding Rs 100 crore but less than Rs 500 crore in 2016-17 (about Rs 665 crore) as against seven individuals (tax paid Rs 1,098 crore) in the same category in the preceding year. No individual paid tax of over Rs 500 crore in 2016-17 and 2015-16.
The Income-Tax Department is also focusing on information being received from other countries through automatic exchange of information to investigate cases of illegal funds and properties stashed abroad by Indians and may invoke the new anti-black money law for strict criminal action in many such cases, officials said.
The Department, in coordination with their foreign counterparts, is investigating offshore bank deposits and purchase of assets by “thousands of Indians”, the officials added.