Monday, November 29, 1999

I-T dept planning to bring rural traders into tax net

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New Delhi, May 16 (PTI) The Income Tax department is looking to bring rural traders and others into the tax net. The department which is attempting to expand the taxpayer base in the country will now focus their attention on a large swathe of rural businesses that have so far remained untouched. "We are planning to increase the taxpayers base. A number of taxpayers and assessees that the department would include will be from the rural areas," CBDT Member (Revenue) Durgesh Shankar told PTI. There are a large number of people who do not pay tax. Tax avoidance is a great worry and the department would strengthen the mechanism to include such assesses in the income tax fold, Shankar said. The I-T department has found that the income generated from numerous kinds of businesses conducted in rural areas can be brought under the tax net. The country''s official auditor, The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a recent report tabled in Parliament had also expressed concern about the declining tax base during 2008-09. "The number of assessees declined by 3 per cent compared to an increase by 7.6 per cent in 2007-08. The decline was sharper among corporate assessees, indicating, inter alia, stop-filing which would need to be reviewed by the Board (Central Board of Direct Taxes)," the CAG report had said. It is a matter of concern that the Department which is otherwise aiming at widening the tax base had not managed to retain the existing tax base. Evidently, the department is not utilising the mechanisms available to widen the tax base, the CAG report added. According to Finance Ministry figures, though the taxpayer base grew from 2.72 crore in 2004-05 to 3.26 crore lakh tax payers over the last five years, the number of tax assessees fell by 3 per cent in 2008-09. Shankar also said the department''s initiative to increase the tax base include the untapped areas in the industrial sector. The I-T department, for a long time has been conducting investigations to unearth tax evasion by various industries and similar units who categorise themselves as ''sick'' or ''non-profitable'' and enjoy ''undue'' tax exemptions and benefits. Tax officials are hard put to explain why has the number of tax payers fallen at a time when the country''s GDP is growing at around 8 per cent a year, and the middle class is burgeoning. They say various incentives and tax saving schemes allow assessees to save taxes on their income which is a reason why there are so few taxpayers in the country. A number of citizens like retired people, housewives and children are also out of the tax net or are eligible to enjoy exemptions on their income, I-T sources said.

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