Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection for the month of December shows that the economy is on fast track recovery and the country is witnessing positive growth, said Finance Secretary Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey. Speaking to ANI, Mr Pandey said a record high GST collection of Rs 1,15,174 crore in December was due to economic recovery along with better compliance following the crackdown on malpractices to weed out taxpayers evading GST or using the fake bill to defraud the exchequer.
"The economy is on a faster recovery path as we are witnessing positive growth in the economy. We have better compliance besides having started a nationwide drive against GST evaders to minimize the misuse of the system, kept a check on those persons who were claiming excess Input Tax Credit (ITC)," he said, highlighting the reasons behind all-time record high GST collection.
Mr Pandey added that the government has centralized the data from different agencies and analyzing it through artificial intelligence.
"We got to know that there are a lot of people who are showing income of few lakhs in their income tax returns but in GST they are showing turnovers in crore. We are also getting information that some unscrupulous persons are importing items worth crores of rupees but they are not reflected in their GST or income tax returns. Now, we are acting on these tax evaders on specific data-based information with a targeted approach," he stated.
The Finance Secretary explained that higher GST collection is also the result of higher collection efficiency and the trend should continue in the coming months too.
He further said that in the nationwide drive, investigating agencies have unearthed about 7,000 companies indulged in GST evasion, besides arresting 187 unscrupulous persons which include managing directors, directors, proprietors, partners of firms, and five chartered accountants, and a company secretary.
"So far, investigating agencies have booked about 2,000 cases against 7,000 fake entities. The majority of the arrested persons have not been able to get bails because of the seriousness of their tax frauds," he said.
Talking about the direct taxes, Mr Pandey said that ''Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme'' of Income-tax department has received an encouraging response lately.
"Out of 5.10 lakh tax dispute cases pending in various courts and tribunals of the country around 20 per cent of them - almost 96,000 - have opted in for Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme which was announced on March 15, 2020. For taxpayers'' convenience, we have extended the date to settle the dispute cases to January 31. By March 2021 they are to pay and settle their case. In this 96,000 cases total disputed amount of tax involved is Rs 83,000 crore," he added.
Talking about the faceless assessment scheme which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 13, 2020, the Finance Secretary said that by end of December 2020, out of the first lot of 58,319 cases, the Income Tax Department has issued final scrutiny assessment orders in 24,711 cases, completely through the faceless system.
"In 94 per cent cases, the explanation of the taxpayer was accepted and no additional tax or penalty was imposed. Only in 1,551 cases, concealment or understatement of income was established and the addition of income has been made. These numbers dispel the myth that the faceless system is causing hardship to the taxpayers," he stated further.
Mr Pandey further added that the Income Tax Department has also identified a significant number of people who have deliberately chosen to ignore the notices calling for verification of the tax returns.
"Approximately in 6,000 cases, the devious tax evaders have tried the route of no-response in an apparent bid to escape from the rigors of the law. These persons have ignored the emails, the SMSs, and even the physical notices in some cases. In such cases, actions prescribed under the law including survey and search will be taken," he said.