From April 1, individual and corporate taxpayers who pay Rs 50,000 and more as tax in a single payment may have to make the payment electronically.
A formal announcement to this effect from the Central Board of Direct Taxes is expected shortly, finance ministry sources confirmed.
The move is expected to bring up to 3 million companies and other large tax payers under the purview of mandatory e-payment from the next fiscal year.
E-payments of direct taxes are currently optional, though e-filing for companies and certain categories of taxpayers is mandatory.
THE E FACTOR
2006-07 (till Nov)
2007-08 (till Dec)
Mandatory e-filing (nos)
Voluntary e-filing (nos)
* Number of assessees in India stood at 31.9 million as of 2006-07 Mandatory e-filing of returns: * For companies since 2006-07 * For others (audited under Sec 44AB of the IT Act, 1961) from 2007-08
Such payments accounted for less than one per cent of net direct tax payments of Rs 2,30,090 crore in 2006-07.
The move is being made at the behest of Finance Minister P Chidambaram, sources at North Block told Business Standard.
However, filing electronic returns is likely to continue to be optional for individual taxpayers.
Mandatory e-filing of returns was first introduced in 2006-07 for corporations and then extended to cover partnership firms, businesses and professionals whose accounts are statutorily audited in 2007-08.
Tax assessees can pay taxes online through their internet banking accounts at 17 designated banks including the State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank.
Seven more public and private sector banks have expressed their willingness to join the e-payment system.
Sources added that mandatory e-payment of taxes will boost the CBDTs effort to capture data and mine it better to check evasion and fraudulent claims.
It will also help provide better services to taxpayers to boost direct tax collections, which are currently growing at over 42 per cent.
Significantly, e-filing returns by individual taxpayers, for whom it is optional, shot up sharply in 2007-08.
The number could go up significantly if they are allowed to do so through credit or debit cards, said a tax expert.
The 700,000 to 800,000 new taxpayers that join the taxpayer base are internet savvy and may prefer to pay taxes and file returns online, the expert added.
On the indirect taxes side, electronic payment of service tax is mandatory for assessees who paid service tax of Rs 50 lakh or above in 2006-07.
Similarly, excise assessees making tax payment in excess of Rs 50 lakh have to pay electronically from April 1 this fiscal.