Slew of measures taken to better tax administration: Jaitley


Business, Economy

Recently tax rate for income of Rs 2.5 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs was reduced from 10 per cent to 5 per cent.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the government has taken a slew of measures in the last 2-3 years to increase transparency and fairness in the tax administration.

He was addressing the second meeting of the parliamentary consultative committee attached to the finance ministry on 'Initiatives of IT Department' here.

Jaitley, who also holds the Corporate Affairs portfolio, told Member of Parliaments that the Income Tax Department has taken "various initiatives in the last 2-3 years in order to bring about efficiency, transparency and fairness in tax administration", said a finance ministry release.

Speaking about the initiatives, the finance minister said that a Single Page ITR-1 (SAHAJ) Form was introduced for tax payers having income up to Rs 50 lakhs.

The tax rate for individuals having income of Rs 2.5 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs was reduced from 10 per cent to 5 per cent, which is one among the lowest in the world, he said.

Jaitley further said the concept of 'no scrutiny' was introduced for the first time non-business tax payers having income up to Rs 5 lakh so that "more and more people are encouraged" to join the tax net and file their IT returns and pay the due amount of taxes.

The finance minister said 97 per cent of the income tax returns were filed electronically this year, out of which 92 per cent returns were processed within 60 days and 90 per cent refunds were also issued within 60 days.

He said after the intense follow-up of demonetisation data from November 9, 2016 to January 10, 2017, about 1,100 searches were made, resulting into seizure of Rs 610 crore, including cash of Rs 513 crore.

Undisclosed income of Rs 5,400 crore was detected and about 400 cases have been referred to ED and CBI for an appropriate action, Jaitley said.

Highlighting the impact of noteban and the "proactive initiatives", he said the revenue collections in case of direct taxes rose to Rs 8,49, 818 crore during 2016-17 at a growth rate of 14.5 per cent.

He said net direct tax collections up to September 18, 2017 in the current financial year rose to Rs 3.7 lakh crore, showing a growth of 15.7 per cent.

The number of tax payers increased significantly from 4.72 crore in 2012-13 to 6.26 crore in 2016-17.

During the meeting some of the MPs suggested reducing the banking or transaction charges in order to promote digital transactions.

The committee members also suggested that more time should be given to the people living in those areas where there is either frequent power failures or having no Internet facilities to file their returns.

Some also suggested that more searches may be conducted against the black money holders as still many people are transacting in black money.