NEW DELHI: Income tax returns went up nearly 6% to 5.9 crore on Sunday, the last date for filing for fiscal year 2019-20 for all categories, other than companies or those with tax audit.
By August 31, 2019, which was the last date for all categories including individuals for the fiscal year 2018-19, 5.6 crore returns had been logged, the income tax department said late Monday evening. This year, the deadline has been extended on at least three occasions with the government citing Covid-19 as the reason.
Last year, there was a mere 1.5% rise in the returns filed, following tax concessions offered to individuals.
Given a plethora of exemptions, the base of individual income tax payers is limited to just around 1.5 crore, which is around 1% of the country’s population. Despite recognition at the highest level — with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagging the concern — tax authorities have failed to adequately expand the net to the non-salaried category, resulting in a massive pile-up of pressure on the small base. Data released by the finance ministry on Monday showed that over 31 lakh returns were filed on the last day — January 10 — which was significantly lower than the over 49 lakh filed on August 31, 2019.
Officials attributed it to the decision to offer a further 10-day relaxation in the filing deadline, which helped individuals comply with the requirement, without putting undue pressure on the servers. For individuals, the original deadline for return filing was July 31, which was extended to November 30 and then to December 31. It was subsequently extended to January 10.