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Tax mop-up way behind fiscal target
February, 05th 2009

The government is facing a shortfall of over Rs 120,000 crore in tax collections and is trying to get reluctant tax-payers to pay up in the last two months of the current fiscal.

The gap in direct tax collections is Rs 100,000 crore, while it is Rs 20,000 crore in indirect tax.

The government had expected to collect indirect taxes worth Rs 320,000 crore. However, because of a fall in foreign trade and tax cuts announced to stimulate the economy, it is likely to end the year with a collection of Rs 300,000 crore.

In direct tax collection, there is a gap of more than Rs 100,000 crore. But we are hopeful of reaching the budget estimate, CBDT chairman S.S.N. Moorthy told reporters here.

Direct tax collection till February 1 stood at Rs 247,000 crore, while the budget estimate was Rs 365,000 crore.

Direct tax receipts, which were up 39 per cent till the April-June quarter, slowed down as the global financial crisis hit Indian companies, which started reporting lower sales and profits.

Last year, the finance ministry had set a target of 20 per cent growth in corporate tax and a 14 per cent rise in income tax. The government has now asked the tax department to shore up revenues by applying pressure on unwilling taxpayers.

The I-T department has already made an additional demand of Rs 124,000 crore on the basis of test checks of half-yearly returns.

In difficult times, corporate houses have a tendency not to pay advance tax. They pay later, thus saving on interest. However, we are trying to ensure that this does not happen and get out as much money as possible, said officials. Companies that have paid less than 90 per cent of the previous advance tax are being scrutinised.

Economists with the finance ministry said though the government was trying to raise more revenues, the fiscal deficit the gap between earnings and spending would be higher by at least 1.5 per cent. The deficit for 2008-09 has been estimated at Rs 133,287 crore, which is 2.5 per cent of GDP.

However, the deficit in the first nine months of the current fiscal is Rs 218,262 crore, more than one-and-a-half times the budget estimate.

The government has also gone in for several items of off-budget expenditure, including a Rs 71,000-crore farm loan waiver, a Rs 22,000-crore pay hike for civil servants and Rs 20,000 crore extra spending on new infrastructure projects.

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