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Orissa sore over Centre`s inaction on direct tax arrears
April, 09th 2012

The Orissa government is sore over the inaction of Government of India in collecting direct tax arrears that have mounted to Rs 2.49 lakh crore by the end of 2011-12.

"Owing to the Centre's lack of initiative in expediting collection of arrears, the state has lost out revenue to the tune of Rs 3800 crore by way of shared tax. Had the Centre collected the outstanding arrears of Rs 2.49 lakh crore, all the states taken together would have gained around Rs 80,000 crore as 32 per cent state share, said a senior finance department official.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had recently rapped the Income Tax (I-T) department for not taking effective steps to recover tax arrears owed to the government, which have shot up to a whopping Rs.2.3 lakh crore over the last five years. As per Budget Estimates for 2012-13 of the Government of India (GoI), the dues are set to rise further to Rs 2.49 lakh crore.

The outstanding tax dues of Rs 2.3 lakh crore constitute more than half of the country's total direct tax collections of Rs.4.35 lakh crore for 2009-10.

The CAG report tabled in the Parliament points out that income tax officials have been sitting on cases instead of initiating prompt action to collect outstanding tax dues, which do not involve any dispute whatsoever.

The audit report has found that in over 1,54,000 cases involving an outstanding demand of Rs.4,544 crore, assessing officers had failed to hand over the files to the tax recovery officers (TROs) for further action even though more than a year had elapsed after completion of the assessment.

On the one hand, the Congress MLAs blame the Orissa government for commercial tax arrears worth over Rs 4000 crore. Ironically, the Congress led UPA government at the Centre is silent over humongous direct tax dues, the official added.

The CAG report points out instances of assessment officers not providing information sought by the TROs as a result of which no action could be taken.

The TROs have also been found to be equally inefficient. The annual disposal of tax recovery certificates by them falls far below the norm of 1,200 certificates per annum fixed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).

The CAG has recommended that the target for drawing up of recovery certificates by the TROs may be revisited and an appropriate norm fixed on the basis of the actual work load in different charges instead of the existing norm of 1,200 certificates to be disposed annually.

The CBDT, on its part, has stated that the pending cases have been piling up as there is a shortage of manpower.

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