No target to increase taxpayers base to 10 cr: Govt

RSTV Bureau
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed by the MoS for Finance Jayant Sinha at the inauguration of the ‘Rajasv Gyan Sangam’, the Annual Conference of Tax Administrators 2016, in New Delhi on 16 June 2016.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed by the MoS for Finance Jayant Sinha at the inauguration of the ‘Rajasv Gyan Sangam’, the Annual Conference of Tax Administrators 2016, in New Delhi on 16 June 2016.

In the wake of confusion over whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set a target of doubling the income tax base to 10 crore, government today came out with a statement correcting an earlier press release and saying no specific target has been prescribed.

In a corrigendum, an official release today referred to its press release yesterday in which in the first para it was stated that the Prime Minister had asked the tax authorities on Thursday to take action against non-tax payers so as to increase the number of taxpayers to at least 10 crore.

“In this regard it is clarified that though the Prime Minister asked the Income Tax department to widen the tax base and take suitable action against the non-filers and tax evaders, no specific target to expand the tax base to 10 crore was prescribed.

“The original press release dated June 17 may please be treated as revised to this extent. The mistake in the press release dated June 17 was inadvertent, which is regretted,” said the Department of Revenue release today.

Yesterday, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia sought to contextualise the Prime Minister’s statement saying he was talking about “scope for expansion” of the tax base to 10 crore but he added getting to that mark is “impossible”.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), however, saidin a statement yesterday that the Prime Minister had “asked them to knock on the doors of the non-tax payers so as to increase the number of taxpayers to at least 10 crore”.

Addressing the inaugural session of the two-day annual conference of tax administrators on Thursday, the Prime Minister had asked taxmen to legitimately aspire to have 10 crore taxpayers within the tax base as against 5.43 crore tax payers currently.

The conference was closed to media and Modi’s remarks were relayed by Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha and Adhia yesterday.

At the end of the two-day conference yesterday, Adhia briefed reporters, when he referred to Sinha talking about Prime Minister stating that out of about 25 crore households in the country, there may be 14-15 crore agriculture households.

Stating that this left 10 crore households, Adhia said, “Now, there is a scope for expansion, widening of tax net out of that 10 crore. He (Prime Minister) did not say that we should actually get 10 crore.”

“It is impossible to get 10 crore of taxpayers in this country because many of the non-agriculture households may also be below poverty line staying in urban areas. So, it is not possible to tax all the 10 crore people,” he had said.

Modi, Adhia had said, indicated about widening of the tax net. “There is no specific target or anything,” Adhia added.