Refuting reports regarding inconsistency in the estimate of the number of taxpayers added after demonetisation, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Friday clarified that the various government statements referred to different time periods.
"It is clarified that there is no inconsistency in the data provided by the government in the statements, as these are in different contexts and for different time periods," the CBDT said in a statement.
As per the statement, the various occasions where government gave varied data is as follows:
a) Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech mentioned that an additional 56 lakh people filed Personal Income Tax (PIT) Returns from April 1 to August 5, 2017. Last year for the same period, the figure was 22 lakh.
The CBDT said that the Prime Minister's speech referred to the increase in number of e-filed personal Income Tax Returns (ITRs) filed from April 1 to August 5 over the ITRs filed in corresponding period of earlier years.
The data maintained by the I-T Department shows that during April 1, 2017 to August 5, 2017, 2.79 crore e-returns of individual taxpayers were received as against 2.23 crore e-returns received during April 1, 2016 to August 5, 2016. Thus, the additional ITRs received in 2017 works out to be 56 lakh.
During the same period of 2015, two crore e-returns were received, meaning thereby, that in 2016, only 22 lakh (rounded off) additional e-returns were received by the due date of filing.
b) The Economic Survey Volume 2 released mentions that 5.4 lakh new taxpayers were added post-demonetisation.
The CBDT said that the analysis given is based on the data for the period of November 9 to March 31 of 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 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.
c) On May 17, 2017, the Finance Minister stated that 91 lakh taxpayers have been added to the tax net as a result of action taken by the Income Tax Department.
The CBDT said that the statement of the Finance Minister regarding addition of 91 lakh 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 (different period and different type of taxpayers).
d) In reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on August 1, 2017, it was stated that 33 lakh new taxpayers have been added to the tax net post demonetisation.
The CBDT said that the reply mentioned that during November 9, 2016 to March 31, 2017, the number of ITRs filed was 1.96 crore as against 1.63 crore filed during the corresponding period of last financial year (2015-16). Therefore, number of additional returns filed during this period works out to be 33 lakh.
However, this data cannot be compared with the other data mentioned above. The data referred to in 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.
From April 1 to August 5, 2017, 2.79 crore returns have been filed by individual taxpayers as against 2.23 crore returns filed during corresponding period of last year. The number is expected to further rise significantly as many more taxpayers are still to file their returns, it said.