A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about near-doubling of taxpayer base to 10 crore, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia today sought to contextualise the statement saying he was talking about "scope for expansion" and getting to that mark is "impossible".
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), however, said in a statement that the Prime Minister had "asked them to knock on the doors of the non-tax payers so as to increase the number of taxpayers to at least 10 crore".
Addressing the inaugural session of the two-day annual conference of tax administrators yesterday, the Prime Minister had asked taxmen to legitimately aspire to have 10 crore taxpayers within tax bases as against 5.43 crore tax payers currently.
The conference was closed to media and Modi's remarks were relayed by Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha and Adhia yesterday.
At the end of the conference today, Adhia briefed the reporters, where he referred to Sinha having said that the Prime Minister in his address had stated that out of about 25 crore households in the country, there may be 14-15 crore agriculture households.
Stating that this left 10 crore households, Adhia said, "Now, there is a scope for expansion, widening of tax net out of that 10 crore. He (Prime Minister) did not say that we should actually get 10 crore."
"It is impossible to get 10 crore of taxpayers in this country because many of the non-agriculture households may also be below poverty line staying in urban areas. So, it is not possible to tax all the 10 crore people," he said.
Modi, Adhia said, indicated about widening of the tax net. "There is no specific target or anything," Adhia added.