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MoF clarifies no drop in ITR e-filings; says two fiscal numbers not directly comparable

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 06, May 2019, 19:43 pm IST | UPDATED: 09, May 2019, 16:01 pm IST

MoF clarifies no drop in ITR e-filings; says two fiscal numbers not directly comparable Delhi: Refuting to the reports of a decline in income tax return filing via electronic mode, the Ministry of Finance on Monday clarified that there has been no drop in the ITR e-filers. The ministry also stated that the numbers in the fiscal year 2018-19 are not comparable to 2017-18. It also claimed that there has been an increase of 19 per cent in e-filing of Income Tax Returns. “e-filing of Income Tax Returns registers an increase of 19%. There have been some incorrect reports in media pertaining to reduction in numbers of Income Tax Returns (ITR) e-filed during Financial Year (F.Y.) 2018-19 as compared to F.Y. 2017-18,” the Ministry of Finance tweeted.

"This is factually untrue, because the figures for F.Y. 2017-18 and F.Y. 2018-19 are not directly comparable. It is stated that during F.Y. 2017-18,out of a total of 6.74 crore ITRs which were e-filed, 5.47 crore ITRs were filed for Assessment Year (A.Y.) 2017-18 (the current year), the Ministry said further.
 
"In comparison, during F.Y. 2018-19, a total of 6.68 crore ITRs were e-filed which included 6.49 crore ITRs of current A.Y. 2018-19 marking an increase of almost 19%. A substantially larger number of taxpayers filed their ITRs electronically in F.Y.2018-19 as compared to F.Y.2017-18," it added.

"During F.Y. 2017-18, apart from the returns for the A.Y. 2017-18, nearly 1.21 crore ITRs were filed for A.Y. 2016-17. Balance number of ITRs filed for A.Y. 2015-16 and prior A.Ys is 0.06 crore. In comparison, during F.Y. 2018-19 only 0.14 crore ITRs for A.Y. 2017-18 were filed," it said in another tweet.

"Apparent decrease in number of ITRs filed during F.Y. 2018-19 pertaining to earlier years was due to an amendment in Section 139(5) of Income-tax Act, 1961 w.e.f. 01.04.2018, which mandated that a revised return could be furnished only upto the end of the relevant Assessment Year," it said.

"As a result, only 0.14 crore ITRs pertaining to A.Y. 2017-18 were filed during F.Y. 2018-19 as these were the revised ITRs for the relevant A.Y. which could only be filed due to change in law & no other ITR of any earlier A.Y. could be filed in view of amended provisions of law," the Ministry continued.

"It is also stated that the number of paper ITRs for A.Y. 2017-18 was only 9.2 lakh (1.5% of total ITRs filed) and the number of paper ITRs for A.Y. 2018-19 is 4.8 lakh (0.6% of total ITRs filed)," it added.

"As per the above details, it is evident that most of the taxpayers have steadily switched to e-filing which is clear from the dwindling numbers of paper returns filed for A.Y. 2018-19 compared to earlier years, it cncluded.

Even the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), earlier in the day, clarified that during FY 2017-18, out of a total of 6.74 crore ITRs which were e-filed, 5.47 crore ITRs were filed for Assessment Year (AY) 2017-18, the current year.

Both Finance Ministry and the CBDT came out with official clarification hours after several media reports highlighted a slowdown in the number of ITRs electronically filed during FY 2018-19 as compared to FY 2017-18. “This is factually untrue, because the figures for FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19 are not directly comparable,” CBDT said in an official statement.

Reports doing rounds in media stated that the income tax e-filings in FY2019 have dropped by more than 6.6 lakh, a trend that analysts said was surprising as tax base was expected to increase post demonetisation. These reports also analysed the statistics put out on Income Tax Department's e-filing website, income tax e-filings in FY 2018-19 was 6.68 crore, down from 6.74 crore in the previous fiscal.
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