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Govt sop to small traders to come under tax net
November, 11th 2011

The commercial taxes department of the state government has been pushing hard to bring into its tax net all small traders in the state practising trade and business activities only within the state, but having annual turnover not exceeding Rs 40 lakh. It is providing a sop to them, but with a rider.

The sop given to them is in the form of exemption from the department's scrutiny of their papers, if they agreed to pay a lump sum amount to the department annually.

The lump sum amount that such traders would have to pay to the commercial taxes department annually is Rs 10,000 in a maximum of two instalments. "It is a new scheme that came into force this year. In fact, it is a policy floated by the Centre," commercial taxes department secretary cum commissioner R Punhani said on Thursday.

While the Centre announced and implemented the policy to bring into tax net the aforesaid designated small traders only this year, the state's commercial taxes department has been riding high on the performance front, as it has been netting increasingly higher volume of taxes from traders and dealers due to increased business and trade activities for the last five fiscals, specially in the light of construction-driven economy. The assumption, of course, is that all classes of traders have benefited from the improved business and trade atmosphere in the state.

"If the small traders with annual turnover up to Rs 40 lakh complied with the department's new policy aimed at benefiting them, then they would get several benefits which other traders are not getting," Punhani said, adding: "They would get freedom from auditing of their value added tax (VAT) papers. The department would also exempt them from having their details scrutinized by its officials. Besides, they would use and utilize easy and simplified forms to submit the details of their returns to the department."

While the commercial taxes department has not yet made its intent strict, the designated small traders have begun to turn up to avail themselves of the new opportunity provided to them to conduct their trade and business activities within the state in a relatively more unencumbered way. On an estimate, the state had around 1 lakh such traders, and around 3,000 of them had already signed the papers agreeing to pay Rs 10,000 in two instalments, Punhani said.

According to him, the World Bank, in its consultative meeting with the Centre, had impressed on it to improve the country's tax resources by bringing the untapped small traders in the tax net. The Centre, accordingly, devised the small tax payers scheme, Punhani said.

He added that Bihar had 1.72 lakh traders each of whom had been filing tax returns of more than Rs 1 lakh every year. It provided the base for netting Rs 6,685 crore by way of commercial taxes during the last fiscal. Moreover, tax earnings of the department had also registered 23.05 per cent growth rate every year for the last five fiscals, Punhani said, adding that the department had already collected Rs 3,764 crore against the target of Rs 4,111 crore till September 2011.

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