For a state battling financial crisis and drought, Rs62,907 crore could help achieve a lot — from reducing the revenue deficit to giving a boost to infrastructure development. But despite the cash crunch, the state has failed to recover the amount due under various heads including sales tax, excise duty, vehicle tax and stamp duty, in the past 15 years.
While a major part of the unrecovered sum (Rs34,490 crore) is stuck in legal disputes, Rs25,224 crore hasn’t been recovered because of the lax approach and staff shortage.
The amount to be recovered was Rs51,643 crore until 2013-14, but as the government failed to recover dues amounting to Rs11,264 crore, the figure rose to Rs62,907 crore in 2014-15.
The government machinery has also failed to recover Rs3,192 crore from non-tax revenue sources.
Around 70% of the tax dues are from the sales tax department and are pending because of the appeals, some of them dating back 15 years, filed by traders. A majority of them are pertaining to the disputed value added tax on various goods.
Other dues are from taxes on vehicles, land revenues, minor minerals, entry taxes, among others.
“This shows how the government policy has failed. The state’s dues are around 12% of the Central government’s tax dues (Rs5.25 lakh crore). Staff shortage and delay in digitisation of records are to blame,” said Rupesh Keer, coordinator of Samarthan, social organisation which studies the budgets of the state and Centre.
The state plans to recover the dues from the amnesty scheme it launched in the state budget last week. “The amount is huge and is rising each year. We plan to recover Rs20,000 crore pending, most of them from 2005, because of disputes in various courts, with amicable settlement of disputes,” Sudhir Mungantiwar, finance minister told HT.
This is how the amnesty scheme would work for a dealer whose dues are for the period from April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2012. To be eligible for the scheme, the appeal should have been filed before March 31, 2012, and the dealer should have obtained a stay from the appellate authority. The dealer will now have to withdraw the appeal and submit his undeclared earnings. He will have to clear the unpaid tax and pay 25% interest on it, after which their remaining dues will be waived off.
The conditions of the scheme are different for those whose dues are from the period before 2005 and after 2012.
Traders have welcomed the scheme claiming it will help resolve the issues. “A huge amount is unpaid owing to sham transactions that led to the dispute. The scheme will help us write off the dues,” said Mohan Gurnani, Federation of Associations of Maharashtra.