Tax returns filing sees quantum jump: How Modi govt's demonetisation exercise has started bearing fruit

Income Tax returns filed for 2017-18 rose 24.7 percent year-on-year to 2.83 crore returns as on 5 August, as against 2.27 crore returns filed during the corresponding period last year. The number of I-T returns filed by individuals, accounting for 98.7 percent of total ITR, jumped 25.3 percent from last year to 2.79 crore returns filed up to 5 August, as against 2.23 crore returns in the corresponding period last year.

The RBI may be quibbling over the return of the demonetised notes but nobody can deny that the Modi government’s operation clean money is working on the ground. It has served to flutter the dovecots of both the crooks and the smug. Both who smugly deposited the demonetised currency notes have ended up arming the tax sleuths to the teeth.

The IT software used by the tax department in conjunction with banks indeed seems to be throwing out a wealth of information much to the consternation of the depositors who blithely thought no harm could befall them. The software seems to be successful in gleaning the income profile of the depositors which they have been fighting shy of disclosing in the income tax returns whether fully or partially. Small wonder, those smoked out are rushing to file their returns.

Income Tax 380Add to this the fact that almost 1 million new businessmen have registered themselves with GSTN the online portal to administer the nuts and bolts of the Goods and Services Tax that came into force from 1 July, 2017. GST has had the effect of bringing a large number of businessmen from the hitherto non-mainstream economy into the mainstream lest they are swept out of business. The beauty of GST is ‘self-policing’ mechanism---predecessors would insist on tax compliance by the successor lest they are denied the input tax credit.

The critics have been rather uncharitable to the Modi government. Demonetisation might have upset the agrarian economy as well as the SMEs but it has served to put the fear of God into those who have been taking the system for granted under the smug belief that governments come and go but no one would take stern measures to mainstream the economy.

But the Modi-Jaitley duo deserves full compliments for mainstreaming the economy. Demonetisation was the starting point, the wake up call to the somnolent and the crooks. Its purpose was to tell them that it cannot be business as usual. In the event, critics sound churlish when they ask mockingly how much of black money has been cancelled by the exercise. The churlishness is of a piece with the churlishness displayed earlier----where is my 15 lakh rupees?

GST too is having teething troubles inevitable in a paradigm, game-changing exercise. But that does not mean the idea is fundamentally wrong or it is an idea whose time hasn’t come. In the event, critics are once again wrong in saying the government has been hasty in implementing GST. True, internet connectivity, crucial to successful operation of GST, needs to be beefed up tremendously especially in the hinterlands but experience shows unless you make a beginning you cannot succeed. Glitches and deficiencies have to be removed along the way.

And last but not the least, the frontal attack on benami transactions by the Modi government, starting with Chagan Bhujbal of NCP and upsetting the applecart of the irrepressible Lalu Yadav. Crooks fearing confiscation of properties held benami have started behaving now.  So much so, they are coughing up tax on income earlier camouflaged as someone else’s.

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Updated Date: Aug 08, 2017 12:58:36 IST

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