The government asked all income tax assessees to disclose their true income or risk getting a notice from the tax department.
The finance ministry warned taxpayers that concealment of income while filing tax returns would not go unnoticed, as the tax department had collated information on their spending and investment patterns.
As tax collections remained muted, growing at 15 per cent to Rs 2.7 lakh crore (Rs 2.7 trillion) in April-November, it asked taxpayers to file correct returns by December 15, when the third instalment of advance tax is due.
"There is no advantage in suppressing the true income or avoiding paying income tax that is due because, sooner than later, the information available with the Income Tax Department will lead the department to the doors of such persons," Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose said in a strongly-worded statement.
Struggling to meet its tax collection target, the finance ministry said only 1.4 million taxpayers disclosed income above Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) in 2012-13, but 1.6 million people made credit card payments of over Rs 200,000 during the year.
As many as 1.1 million bought or sold house property of over Rs 30 lakh (Rs 3 million), 3.3 million had cash deposits of over Rs 10 lakh in a savings bank account.
Besides, 5.2 million people acquired mutual funds of Rs 200,000 or more, bonds or debentures of Rs 500,000 or more, shares issued by a company of Rs 100,000 or more, and bonds issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) of Rs 500,000 or more.
"In assessment year 2012-13, only 1.4 million assessees - including salaried persons, Hindu undivided families, professionals, firms, companies, transporters and retainers - have filed their returns disclosing a taxable income of over Rs 10 lakh. Any fair-minded person will agree this is a gross under-statement," Bose said.
According to the finance ministry's estimates, there were about 30 million taxpayers with taxable income of up to Rs 10 lakh in 2011-12. About 1.7 million had taxable income above Rs 10 lakh.
Taxpayers with income of Rs 10-20 lakh brought in about 12.1 per cent to the tax collections, whereas those with income above Rs 20 lakh (Rs 2 million) contributed 63 per cent to direct tax collections.
Bose said for assessees who had not yet paid the correct advance tax, there is an opportunity to rectify the mistake and pay it by December 15, 2012. It is the date on which the third instalment of advance tax for companies and the second instalment for all other assessees is due.
Net direct tax collections as on November 30, stood at Rs 2.7 lakh crore, against the target of Rs 5.7 lakh crore (Rs 5.7 trillion) this year. In 2011-12, the collections stood at Rs 4.94 lakh crore (Rs 4.94 trillion). The finance ministry has said collections this year are expected to exceed the actual mop-up of last year.
Net corporate tax collections stood at Rs 162,897 crore (Rs 1.62 trillion) till November, while personal tax mop-up was at Rs 107,215 crore (Rs 1.07 trillion). Net direct tax collection in November stood at Rs 19,863 crore (Rs 198.63 billion), according to ministry officials.
In September, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had asked the tax department to go after low-tax-paying sectors, which could add an additional Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) to the revenue kitty.
The finance minister said even though the applicable tax rate for corporations was 30 per cent, the effective tax rate was just 24 per cent, and even lower in some sectors.
He said instead of randomly going after taxpayers, most of whom duly pay their taxes, the department should focus on these below-average sectors to see whether the average could be raised to collect more taxes.