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Prompt tax refund surprise for taxpayers
April, 12th 2011

Here is a rare pleasant surprise from the taxman. Lakhs of taxpayers throughout the country have got refunds much before they had expected.

The department has refunded Rs 72,000 crore, most cases belonging to assessment year 2009-10 but also a substantial numbers pertaining to year 2010-11, claimed chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes ( CBDT) Sudhir Chandra. He was a talking to newspersons on the sidelines of valedictory function of the 63rd batch of Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers passing at National Academy of Direct Taxes (NADT) here.

Chandra claimed it was for the first time since independence that income tax department had received refunds in the month of March itself. Normally refunds pertaining to 2009-10 would have been received in the middle of this financial year.

Refunds for the year 2010-11 could not be expected before April 2012. Now there is a target to finish almost all the pending refunds by April 20, 2011, said Chandra. "It was earlier planned to pay even the returns for 2010-11 by April 1. The target could not be met, so the deadline has been extended to April 20," he said. The focus now would be to give refunds within the same financial year.

Chandra said tax collections had surpassed even the revised targets, notwithstanding a heavy outflow on account of refunds. The collections by the end of financial year (March 31, 2011) stood at Rs 4.50 lakh crore against a target of Rs 4.46 lakh crore, revised from earlier Rs 4.30 lakh crore, he said.

Chandra hinted that earlier the collection tally was bloated by delaying refunds. It gave a wrong picture as the money had to be ultimately paid back.

Early refunds had saved interest outflow of almost Rs 4,500 crore which had to be otherwise shelled out as interest arising out of delayed payment of refunds.

"No drastic changes were required to achieve the target. I kept the personnel motivated by meeting their demands. This helped and many worked overtime," said Chandra.

This could have been achieved earlier but there was an inherent lethargy in the department, said the officer. He expressed concern over the Mumbai commissionerate which, he said, was lagging behind.

Chartered accountants and tax practitioners also agreed that refunds had been coming fast these days. "Refunds have been prompt. However, problems exist for tax deducted at source (TDS) in case the deductor has not filed the right data about the deductee in his returns.

The flawed data are leading to a mismatch in the deductee's returns due to which refunds are held up," said Satish Sarda, chairman of Nagpur branch of Insitute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).

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