The CBDT has rung alarm bells and has asked the Income Tax Department to go for a major assault as the direct tax collection target remains short of about 15 per cent, with the financial year closing less than a week away.
On March 26, CBDT Member (Revenue) Neena Kumar shot off a letter to all the regional chiefs of the department stating that the tax collection figures have "been reviewed and it is seen that as against the budget collection target of Rs 12,00,000 crore, only 85.1 per cent of the target at Rs 10,21,251 crore has been collected as on March 23."
The officer, who is responsible to supervise I-T department's tax collection work across the country, underlined the areas that are sluggish vis-a-vis direct tax collections obtained from personal, corporate and advance tax categories.
"The minor head-wise analysis indicates worsening trend of negative growth in regular collections at -6.9 per cent as against -5.2 per cent in the last week. This is an alarming situation which needs immediate attention," Kumar wrote in the letter.
The officer expressed CBDT's disappointment at this situation and has asked the supervisory tax officials to pull up their socks and ensure no stone remains unturned to achieve the target.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) frames policy for the I-T department and is also its controlling authority that functions from the North Block in the Finance Ministry.
"You are aware that regular assessment tax is bench-mark of performance as it is based upon quality of demand raised which can further be converted into actual collections," Kumar wrote in the letter.
"Board (the CBDT) has discussed strategies through various communications with you (senior officials) and it was expected that by this time your strategies would have succeeded resulting into improved collections. However, the figures of collection give a different account," she added.
She asked the department to take "all possible actions urgently, especially with respect to recovery of arrear and current demand, so as to achieve the targets for collection."
The CBDT has been worried over the direct tax collection work for quite some time and Board Chairman P C Mody had recently held a video-conference with the top brass of the department across the country and discussed strategies to boost the collection figures to be achieved by the end of the 2018-19 fiscal on March 31.
Both Mody and Kumar are undertaking daily updates on the issue. They are monitoring advance tax and arrear collections, enforcement action to check tax evasion and subsequent surrender of undisclosed income, a senior official said.