gA meagre one per cent of Indian population pays income tax, government has told the Parliament. In his response to a question in Lok Sabha, Ministry of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur informed that for financial year 2018-19 till February 2020, 5.78 crore income tax returns were filed by individual taxpayers out of which only 1.46 crore individual taxpayers declared income above Rs 5 lakh.
The Finance Act, 2019 mandates that individual taxpayers with income up to Rs 5 lakh are not liable to pay any income tax from assessment year 2020-21 onwards. Meanwhile, tax evasion remains a major hindrance to tax collection in the country.
Thakur mentioned that the government has taken several steps for timely detection of tax evasion. To this end, searches and seizures, surveys, enquiries, assessment of income, levy of taxes, penalties, and filing of prosecution complaints in criminal courts, wherever applicable, have been undertaken in accordance with direct tax laws, he stated.
Listing specific measures to prevent tax evasion, Thakur stated that the Income Tax Department has developed a wide range of non-intrusive methods for detecting tax evasion. These include important measures like Computer Assisted Scrutiny Selection (CASS) for selection of cases for Scrutiny; Non-filers Monitoring System (NMS) to prioritize action on non-filers; Income Tax Business Application (ITBA), he added.
The government has introduced several legislative provisions in Income Tax Act, 1961 to check tax evasion, Thakur said, including mandatory quoting of PAN for various cash transactions, restrictions on cash transactions of Rs 2 lakh or more, levy of TDS at 2 per cent on cash withdrawal above Rs 1 crore by one person from one or more accounts during a financial year, and prohibiting taxpayers from taking or accepting loans or deposits or a sum of more than Rs 20,000 in cash or repayment of loans or deposits of a sum of more than Rs 20,000 in cash. No deductions under section 80G of the Act is allowed if cash donations exceed Rs. 2,000, he mentioned.
Bringing transparency in funding to political parties, encouraging digital transactions, engaging with foreign governments for exchange of information under Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs), Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs), and Multilateral Conventions, effective enforcement actions in foreign assets cases, and mandatory linking of Aadhaar and PAN have also been done to prevent tax evasion, Thakur informed.