E-tax payment may be made compulsory in India

From April 1, 2008 individual and corporate taxpayers who pay INR 50,000 and more as tax in a single payment may have to make the payment electronically. According to the sources in the Finance Ministry, a formal announcement to this effect from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is expected shortly. Mandatory e-payment of taxes will boost the CBDT's effort to capture data and “mine” it better to check evasion and fraudulent claims.

The move is expected to bring up to 3 million companies and other large tax payers under the purview of mandatory e-payment from the next fiscal year. E-payments of direct taxes are currently optional, though e-filing for companies and certain categories of taxpayers is mandatory. Such payments accounted for less than one per cent of net direct tax payments of INR 2,30,090 crore in 2006-07. Filing electronic returns is likely to continue to be optional for individual taxpayers. Mandatory e-filing of returns was first introduced in 2006-07 for corporations and then extended to cover partnership firms, businesses and professionals whose accounts are statutorily audited in 2007-08. Tax assessees can pay taxes online through their Internet banking accounts at 17 designated banks including the State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank. On the indirect taxes side, electronic payment of service tax is mandatory for assessees who paid service tax of INR 50 lakh or above in 2006-07.