Pushed by lower refunds and a demonetisation-backed higher base, direct taxes have come to the help of the government in its struggle to meet its fiscal deficit target for 2017-18. Direct tax collection, net of refunds, has risen 18.7 per cent till Monday, against the 15.7 per cent projected in the Budget Estimates (BE). In absolute terms, the figure touched Rs 6.89 trillion, representing 70.3 per cent of the BE of Rs 9.8 trillion. Including refunds, gross direct tax collection rose 13.5 per cent to Rs 8.11 trillion. This could be attributed to lower refunds, to the tune of Rs 1.22 trillion as on Monday, against Rs 1.34 trillion at this time a year before, as well as a higher tax base due to demonetisation. Direct tax collection has shown significant improvement across all parameters, in terms of growth in each quarter. The growth of total gross direct tax collection was 10 per cent in the first quarter, 10.3 per cent in the next one, and 12.6 per cent in the third. Overall growth was 13.5 per cent, as on Monday. Similarly, the growth rate of direct tax collection before refunds had climbed from 14.8 per cent in Q1 to 15.8 per cent in Q2 to 18.2 per cent in Q3.
This growth was 18.7 per cent, ason Monday.Growth has been particularly good in collections under corporation tax — 4.8, 5.1 and 10.1 per cent, respectively, in the three quarters. And, overall, 11.4 per cent as on Monday. This collection after refunds rose from 10.8 per cent in Q2 to 17.4 per cent in Q3 (18.2 per cent higher as on Monday). The government is trying to meet the fiscal deficit target of 3.2 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for FY18. And, it is looking at a possible shortfall under the goods and services tax and proceeds from telecom spectrum. The target also faces pressure due to less growth in GDP than the Budget had estimated. The first advance estimate for GDP growth in 2017-18, issued on Friday, indicate the deficit as a percentage of nominal GDP would be nearly 3.3 per cent, even if retained at the budgeted number of Rs 5.46 trillion.