The revenue department on Thursday issued notices to 35,000 assessees for failure to file IT returns, while finance minister P Chidambaram entreated defaulters to pay taxes and seek penalty waiver.
"A polite letter was sent to 35,000 such persons in the first lot. Two weeks ago we have sent letters to another lot of 35,000 persons. Today letters are being issued to a third lot of 35,000 persons," he told reporters here.
The minister assured that the IT department would take a benign view of assessees volunteering to file returns and clear their dues and interest.
"The tax authorities can take a benign view and waive the penalty. They have done so in numerous cases in the past. This is your opportunity to file your returns, pay your tax and interest, if any, and apply for waiver of penalty," he said urging the assessees to pay advance tax by tomorrow.
The last date for paying the final instalment of advance tax is March 15 for corporates as well as individuals.
Chidambaram said the steps taken by the tax department to check evasion is reaping results as 10,000 assessees, of the 70,000 to whom notices were sent, have disclosed their income and filed taxes on receiving the letter.
"These letters have had salutary effect. Over 10,000 recipients, of the first two lots of letters have filed their returns and paid their tax dues," Chidambaram said.
The revenue department is tapping each and every source of revenue to achieve the Rs 5.65 lakh crore collection target under the direct taxes category for this fiscal that ends on March 31.
Chidambaram expressed the hope that more and more assessees would file their returns within the due date and pay their advance tax.
"To those who have not filed their IT returns so far, either for the current year or for previous years, I have one simple message - it behoves you to file returns, it behoves you to pay advance tax by tomorrow," he said.
He said 13.5 lakh returns have been filed between February 10 and March 10, an increase of over 15% over 10.81 lakh returns filed during the similar period last year.
Till March 10, 2013, 1.77 crore returns have been filed representing an increase of 35%. As on March 10, 2012, a total of 1.35 crore returns had been e-filed, he added.
"I am inferring that our approach is paying dividend. I am happy with the change of attitude and I hope many thousands more will voluntary file their returns and pay the tax dues, especially the Advance Tax tomorrow," Chidambaram said.
The minister said he had introduced provisions for improving compliance for payment of Service Tax in his budget.
"It is my hope that a very large proportion of 10 lakh registered assessees who have not filed returns and who do not file returns currently will take advantage of this opportunity," Chidambaram said.
The government's policy, he emphasised is clarity in tax laws, a stable tax regime and non-adversarial tax administration, a fair mechanism for dispute resolution and an independent judiciary.
Consistent with this approach, he said both CBDT and CBEC have been persuading the taxpaying community to voluntarily comply with tax laws and pay the taxes due.
"There are many potential tax payers who have not filed returns so far for any assessment year. There are many who have stopped filing returns. These are described as non filers and stop filers. Our effort is to persuade them to file their returns," he added.