If only the finance minister, who wants money to help public schemes, could help the taxman fight court battles or settle them, the government would be a lot richer.
"The quantum of money locked up in 269,770 cases in income tax disputes stands at Rs 242,377 crore as on December 31, 2010," Minister of State for Finance, S.S. Palanimanickam told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply this week.
The number of disputes was 2.59 lakh a year earlier, but the amount involved was higher, at Rs 2.88 lakh crore.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee suggested recently that the taxman might be better off settling disputes than fighting them.
"The department is filling appeals in a routine manner without careful thought and examination leading to the department earning the dubious distinction of being the biggest litigant in the government of India," he said last year.The Comptroller and Auditor General said last August, "The period 2006-09 shows that a staggering R2.2 lakh crore is locked up in appeals at various levels in the department."
The Central Board of Direct Taxes believes new limits on appeals will help. "The new limits are expected to reduce litigation by 15 to 30% in Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, High Court and Supreme Court," a CBDT official told HT.
The new limits for filing appeals by the I-T department before the ITAT, High Courts and the Supreme Court have been revised to Rs 3 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 25 lakh respectively, from Rs 2 lakh, Rs 4 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.