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Income tax (I-T) officials fear 80 per cent of the outstanding tax demand arrears, quantified over Rs 8.4 lakh crore, is unlikely to be recovered. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) plans to adopt a two-pronged strategy to reduce such huge dues. It would focus on optimising disposal in terms of numbers and on maximising disposal of appeals involving high quantum of demand. The CBDT has asked commissioners of I-T (appeals) to dispose of at least 30 per cent of appeals that involve I-T arrear demands of over Rs 10 lakh. It has also directed them to conclude 100 per cent of cases that involve demands of over Rs 50 crore. Arrears of tax demands are demands raised against assessees in the past that have not been paid. The total outstanding arrear demands increased to Rs 10,52,084 crore in April 2017 from Rs 9,29,972 crore in March 2016.
Officials indicated 80 per cent of this would be difficult to recover in this fiscal year. The arrears are piling up because of litigation, liquidation of companies, and untraceable taxpayers. “Rising litigation and the quantum of revenue locked up in appeals are matters of serious concern that require attention,” a CBDT official said.Till April, Rs 1.18 lakh crore of demands had been stayed by various courts and the appellate tribunal. Demands involving appeals with commissioners of income tax, or CITs, totalled Rs 6.11 lakh crore. “While the causative factors responsible for this huge outstanding revenue need to be addressed separately, it is imperative that concerted efforts are made to reverse the trend of increasing arrear demands and to initiate the process of reducing the figure to more manageable levels,” the CBDT said. The CBDT expects if officials stick to its time-bound plan, 163,000 appeals can be disposed of by March 2018. The I-T department achieved a Rs 1,99,490-crore gross reduction of arrear demands in 2016-17, including cash collection of Rs 38,944 crore. Additional demands of Rs 3,79,548 crore were raised, of which Rs 60,731 crore were reduced during the year, including cash collection of Rs 36,905 crore.