India has a large informal economy and the Narendra Modi administration has tried to increase its tax revenue by including more of these activities.
The GST – which encompassed a host of state and federal levies when it was introduced in 2017 – requires businesses with an annual turnover of 4 million Indian rupees ($48,368) or more to register under the scheme.
“We can take a sectoral approach in certain sectors where we believe the taxpayer base is too thin compared to the size of the market,” Vivek Johri, chairman of the Central Excise and Customs Board, told Reuters.
The federal government is also working on a strategy with state governments and will solicit their contributions to increase the indirect taxpayer base, Johri said.
The number of businesses in the GST net rose to 14 million in January 2023 from around 6 million in 2017, Johri said, seeing the potential to further increase the base of GST taxpayers.
One area is the business-to-consumer (B2C) space, he said, adding that the government would use technology to target potential taxpayers without being unduly intrusive. The government will leverage private databases and data available from various government agencies as it seeks to strengthen the tax base, Johri said.
“These databases could include data on taxpayer income, property tax, business directories, utility companies, among others,” Johri said.