58 firms contributed one-fourth of total direct taxes in FY12

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New Delhi: Just 58 corporate taxpayers contributed one-fourth of the Rs.3.57 trillion in direct taxes that the government collected from those who have filed tax returns for fiscal 2012, the Income Tax Department said on Friday.

If the actual receipts of Rs.4.9 trillion from corporate tax, personal income tax and wealth tax stated in budget documents, including receipts from the 15 million individual taxpayers who have not filed returns, are considered, the contribution of the top 58 companies comes to about 18%.

The tax department’s detailed disclosure of receipts from the various classes of taxpayers at different income levels is seen as an answer to French economist Thomas Piketty’s calls for making available detailed figures, which will help in better policymaking.

Piketty had expressed concerns about what he called the lack of transparency in tax data.

As per the updated version of “Income Tax Return Statistics: Assessment Year 2012-13”, salaried people in the lowest bracket, with a gross income of up to Rs.1.5 lakh a year, had better average income than other classes of taxpayers in that range such as partnerships and companies.

About three million individuals in this range had an average income of Rs.85,000 a year.

Partnerships reported average incomes of Rs.40,000 and companies Rs.42,000 in this class.

However, at the highest end of gross income of more than Rs.500 crore, three individuals reported an average of Rs.639 crore, three partnership firms an average of Rs.980 crore and 185 companies a gross average income of Rs.2,425 crore.

According to Amarpal Chadha, tax partner, EY, 94% of taxpayers have a gross total income below Rs.10 lakh.

Some 100,000 taxpayers reported average long-term capital gains of Rs.56,000 from the sale of property, while nine assessees, who made most gains from such transactions, reported an average earning of Rs.3,485 crore.

The data also showed that 400,000 taxpayers had made an average of Rs.26,000 in 2011-12 from the sale of shares, mutual funds and property, while one taxpayer reported the highest gains in this class at Rs.1,056 crore.

Rental income also made 1.55 million people richer by an average of Rs.60,000 in the year, while one taxpayer received Rs.313 crore by way of rent.

The data does not reflect the actual number of taxpayers with income up to Rs.5 lakh a year because they were exempt from filing returns then.

“This exemption, which was available for assessment years 2011-12 and 2012-13, was discontinued from assessment year 2013-14 perhaps in order to ensure the relevant taxpayers continue to file returns and remain within the system, in line with the government’s overall objective of broadening the tax base,” said Alok Agarwal, senior director, Deloitte Haskins and Sells LLP.

The government now is implementing a major direct tax reform of phasing out all corporate tax exemptions and gradually lowering the corporate tax rate from 30% to 25% over three-four years.

According to Rajesh H. Gandhi, partner, Deloitte Haskins and Sells, the impact of phasing out corporate tax exemptions and simultaneously lowering the tax rate to 25% depends on which incentives are prone to revenue leakage, how receipts improve after these are removed and how an overall reduction in the rate affects revenue collections.