The income tax department on Friday put to rest the controversy over the so-called inconsistency in the estimates of the number of taxpayers added after demonetisation.
The inconsistency was reported because Prime Minister Narendra Modi
mentioned in his Independence Day
speech that an additional 5.6 million people filed personal income tax returns
from April 1 to August 5 in 2017, as compared to 2.2 million people in the same period last year.
Earlier, Volume 2 of the Economic Survey mentioned that around 5,40,000 new taxpayers were added post-demonetisation.
Also, the country's finance minister, Arun Jaitley, had stated in May that around 9.1 million taxpayers have been added to the tax net as a result of action taken by the Income Tax Department. Moreover, in a reply to an unstarred question in the Rajya Sabha earlier this month, it was stated that around 33,00,000 new taxpayers have been added to the tax net following the Centre's demonetisation
In a statement, the department clarified that there is no inconsistency in the data provided by the government in these statements as these are in different contexts and for different time periods.
It said the Prime Minister's speech referred to the increase in the number of e-filed personal income tax returns
(ITRs) that were filed between April 1 and August 5, this year over the ITRs filed in the corresponding period of earlier years. The data maintained by the IT Department shows that during this period around 27.9 million e-returns of individual taxpayers were received, as against the preceding year's record of 22.3 million e-returns. The number is expected to rise further as many taxpayers are yet to file their returns, it said.
"Thus, the additional ITRs received in 2017 works out to be 5.6 million. During the same period in 2015, around 20 million e-returns were received, meaning thereby, that in 2016, only 2.2 (rounded off)) additional e-returns were received by the due date of filing," it said.
The analysis given in the Economic Survey is based on the data for the period between November 9 and March 31 during 2016-17 and corresponding periods of last two financial years.
Moreover, the growth in the number of taxpayers discussed in the Economic Survey is based on the number of new taxpayers assuming the previous year's growth rate as the reference growth rate.
On the other hand, the growth of individual return-filers referred to in the PM's speech is with respect to new as well as old taxpayers.
"Thus, the data used in Economic Survey is different from data referred to in PM's speech in respect of the period of filing as well as the type of taxpayers and the two are not comparable," the department said.
The statement of Jaitley regarding the addition of 9.1 million taxpayers to the tax-base referred to the total number of new returns filed during the entire financial year 2016-17 and therefore, it is neither comparable to the data in PM's speech nor with the data in Economic Survey.
The reply in the upper house of Parliament mentioned that during the stipulated period in 2017, the number of ITRs filed was 19.6 million, as against 16.3 million that were filed during the corresponding period of the previous financial year 2015-16.
"Therefore, the number of additional returns filed during this period works out to be 3.3 million. However, this data cannot be compared with the other data. The data referred to in the Economic Survey is with regard to new taxpayers or first-time return filers only, whereas the data provided in the Rajya Sabha question was in respect of all returns filed," the department said.