New Delhi: The number of income tax return (ITR) filings surged 71 per cent to 5.42 crore till August 31 the last date for submission for the financial year 2017-18.

This was led by a massive eight-fold jump in returns filed by entities under the presumptive tax scheme and 54 per cent increase in e-filing by salaried individuals.

The increase in the number of returns reveals a marked improvement in the level of voluntary compliance of taxpayers which can be attributed to several factors, including the impact of demonetisation, enhanced persuasion and education of taxpayers as also the impending provision of late fee which would be effective on late filing of returns, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

The total number of ITRs e-filed up to August 2018, was 5.42 crore as against 3.17 crore up to August 31, 2017, marking an increase of 70.86 per cent. Almost 34.95 lakh returns were e-filed on August 31, 2018.

A remarkable increase is seen in the number of ITRs filed by salaried individuals as also those availing the benefit of the Presumptive Taxation Scheme, it said.

The total number of e-returns of salaried individual taxpayers filed till August 31 increased to 3.37 crore from 2.19 crore returns filed during the corresponding period of 2017, registering a growth of almost 54 per cent.

As many as 1.17 crores ITRs were e-filed by persons availing the benefit of Presumptive Tax, compared to 14.93 lakh returns filed up to August 2017, registering a massive eight-fold jump.

This is indicative of an India moving steadily towards a more tax compliant society and reflects the impact of continuous leveraging of technology to improve taxpayer service delivery, the statement said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in Budget 2018-19 flagged the tax mop-up from entities under the Presumptive Taxation Scheme.

Under this scheme, 41 per cent more returns were filed during this year which shows that many more persons are joining the tax net under the simplified scheme. However, the turnover shown is still not encouraging, he had said.
The government had liberalised the presumptive income scheme for small traders and entrepreneurs with the annual turnover of less than Rs 2 crore and introduced a similar scheme for professionals with the annual turnover of less than Rs 50 lakh with the hope that there would be a significant increase in compliance.

The I-T Department had received 44.72 lakh returns for the assessment year 2017-18 (the financial year 2016-17) from the individual, Hindu undivided family (HUF) and firms with a meagre average turnover of Rs 17.97 lakhs and an average tax payment of Rs 7,000 only, the minister had said.

The tax compliance behaviour of professionals is no better; the department has received 5.68 lakh returns under the presumptive income (taxation) scheme for the assessment year 2017-18 with average gross receipts of Rs 5.73 lakh only. The average tax paid by them is only Rs 35,000, Jaitley had said.