New Delhi: Income-tax returns filed this year has seen a surge of over 60% in comparison to those filed last year, said media reports on Friday. With the last date of filing of income tax returns for individuals drawing a salary _ and those with a professional income without the need for an audit _ being August 31, Friday, the number of returns filed rose to the five crore mark by Thursday evening, said a report in The Times of India.

The final number is likely to rise further, taking into account the last-minute filers. The daily reported that over 20 lakh returns were filed on Thursday alone. The authorities, while agreeing that a part of the rise was because of better education of the taxpayers, they felt that the Government’s decision to impose a penalty on anyone filing after August 31 also led to more people filing returns on
time. August 31 was the new deadline following an extension of a month.

The Government had first allowed returns for the previous financial year to be filed without a penalty until March-end. By the end of the last financial year, 6.8 crore returns were filed. Meanwhile, the number of people filing returns is higher than the number of people who pay income tax — more than a crore returns declare zero tax liability. The report said tax officials also feel that the rush to meet the deadline could also be because of better compliance post-demonetisation.

The Government is, however, facing flak over demonetisation since the Reserve Bank of India revealed a couple of days ago that 99.3% of the scrapped notes had been deposited in banks. Tax experts believe that many businessmen filed returns for fear of being tracked based on the GST payments and returns.