Advantages and Disadvantages of Demonetisation | H&R Block
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Demonetisation

It has been almost a year and a half since government demonetised 500 and 1,000 rupees notes. It was a major decision which had its impact on all sections of the society. Now, everyone wants to know if it was a masterstroke by the government or a setback to the nation. Demonetisation gave a new direction to the way people do monetary transactions in India and attempted to destroy parallel economy. Just like a coin has a flip side, demonetisation too has its advantages and disadvantages.

[ Read: Impact of Demonetisation of Indian Economy ]

Advantages of Demonetisation

If we are to believe the supporters of demonetisation, the government has successfully completed its demonetisation drive and the Indian economy has made some major gains. Here is what the supporters of demonetisation have to say about the benefits of demonetisation:

  1. A major achievement of demonetisation has been that it has helped the government in tracking black money. The government claimed that large sums of black money were kept hidden by tax evaders and demonetisation has helped it uncover the huge amount of unaccounted cash. According to estimates made by RBI during the demonetisation drive, people had deposited more than rupees 3 lakh crores worth of black money in the bank accounts.
  2. A major reason behind demonetisation was that a big part of black money was being used for funding terrorism, gambling, in inflating the price of major assets classes like real estate, gold and other social evils. Demonetisation is acting as an effective countermeasure against such activities. Now all such activities are expected to get reduced for some time. If the claims are correct then it should take years for people to generate that amount of black money again and hence in a way it helps in putting an end this circle of people doing illegal activities to earn black money and using that black money to do more illegal activities.
  3. Another expected benefit was that due to people disclosing their income by depositing money in their bank accounts, the government will get a good amount of tax revenue which can be used by it towards the betterment of society by providing good infrastructure, hospitals, educational institutions, roads and many facilities for poor and needy sections of society.
  4. Another major objective of the government achieved through demonetisation was to push the Indian economy towards becoming cashless. The government succeeded in encouraging people to use digital means for making transactions.
  5. Economy has witnessed close to 20% decline in currency in circulation, number of taxpayers has considerably increased and a large number of shell companies have been identified.

Disadvantages of Demonetisation

On the other hand, the critics of demonetisation have a completely different opinion about the effects of demonetisation on the Indian economy. Here is what they have to say about the drawbacks of demonetisation:

  1. The biggest disadvantage of demonetisation has been the chaos and frenzy it created among common people initially. Everyone was rushing to get rid of demonetised notes while the inadequate supply of new notes affected the day to day budgets of citizens. Banks and ATMs witnessed long queues while small businesses suffered temporary financial losses. The situation was even worse in rural India where people struggled to exchange and withdraw cash due to lack of enough number of banks and ATMs in their vicinity.
  2. Another disadvantage is that destruction of old currency units and printing of new currency units involve costs which has to be borne by the government and if the costs are higher than benefits then there is no use of demonetisation.
  3. Another problem is that this move targeted the black money, but many people who had not kept cash as their black money and rotated or used that money in other asset classes like real estate, gold and so on were not affected by demonetisation. It turned out that more than 99% of demonetised currency came back to the RBI and was accounted for. Therefore, the government’s claim about black money fell on its face.

So, we can conclude that demonetisation has both advantages and disadvantages. Demonetisation alone cannot fight parallel economy and eliminate black money. Several other supportive measures are required by the government to change the economy for good. Moreover, it is critical to emphasise that demonetisation was a unique event, and hence, drawing inferences based on theory, armchair analysis or even short-term data, could lead to misleading conclusions. Serious research needs to be done extremely carefully and reasonably long-term data must be considered before reaching any conclusion about unprecedented policy events such as demonetisation. This becomes even more important when there are other related moving parts such as goods and services tax (GST), clean-up of the banking system, real estate sector reform and others going on at the same time. So, at the moment, it is better to wait a bit longer until complete analysis of demonetisation’s effects is done to reach the correct conclusion.

Demonetisation’s Importance in Income Tax Return filing

The government has given the tax evaders many opportunities to come clean through the Income Declaration Scheme and new Taxation Laws (Second amendment bill). The bill contains some heavy penal provisions for the tax evaders. Persons who declared their income during the demonetisation period without declaring its source were required to pay 50% in taxes. This included 30% tax on declared income plus 33.33% surcharge on tax i.e., 10% plus a penalty of 10% of declared income total 50% of the income. Not only this, persons were also required to deposit an amount equal to 25% of declared income in the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), 2016 account on or before 30th April 2017. These deposits were to be made for a period of 4 years. Hence, those who made these deposits will get that income back after 4 years but without any interest. The declaration in Form No. 1 under PMGKY was required to be filed by 10th May 2017.

But if you failed to declare the undisclosed income (cash deposits during the demonetisation period) under PMGKY and are subsequently identified by the tax department, then you will have to face the following consequences:

  1. If you are able to relate your deposits to any specific Financial Year and are able to show and explain the source of such income, then you can pay taxes as applicable on such income along with the applicable interest and penalty of 30% of the admitted income.
  2. However, if you are either not able to show the year in which the income was earned or explain how it was earned, then you will have to pay taxes as applicable on such income along with the applicable interest and penalty of 60% of the admitted income.

Therefore, it is important for you to file the Income Tax Return for AY 2017-18 (FY 2016-17) very carefully and declare the cash deposited during the demonetisation period in an appropriate manner.

A taxpayer who has not opted for the PMGKY scheme but offers his black money in his Income Tax Return will have to pay tax and penalty at the rate of 77.25 percent. But those who do not file the return under the scheme and are caught later with undisclosed income in any scrutiny assessment will have to pay 83.25 percent of the undisclosed income as tax and penalty.

The penalty is even more severe if you did not declare your cash deposits during demonetisation either under PMGKY or in your tax return for AY 2017-18. Ifi a raid is conducted on you in such a case, then you will have to pay 107.25 /137.25 percent tax and penalty depending on whether you surrender your undisclosed income during the search or not.

What to do if you did not Declare your Income?

Fortunately, it is still not too late for those who have yet not declared their unaccounted cash deposits. They can still file or revise their tax return for AY 2017-18 on or before 31st March 2018 by declaring it in the appropriate manner and paying the due taxes on it. Remember 31st March is the last date for filing the tax return for AY 2017-18 & 2016-17. So, if any of your unaccounted cash relates to any of these two years, you should immediately file / revise your tax return and set the things right.

Tax experts at H&R Block India can help you declare your income in the right manner and e-file your tax return accurately.

Latest Update: Press Release by CBDT on Impact of Demonetisation – Dated  31-8-2017

CBDT disclosed information on how demonetisation affected black money and helped in widening of tax base and direct tax collections.

Increase in Surveys, Searches & Detection of Black Money

Based on demonetisation data, the government boosted its enforcement actions which had the following results:

  • There was 158% increase in number of searches (from 447 to 1152 groups)
  • The number of seizures increased by 106% (from Rs. 712 crore to Rs.1469 crore)
  • There was 38% increase in admission of undisclosed income (from Rs. 11226 crore to Rs. 15496 crore)
  • The government conducted 183% more surveys (from 4422 to 12520)
  • Increase in the number of survey resulted in 44% increase in the detection of undisclosed income (from Rs. 9654 crore to Rs. 13920 crore)

Increase in Return Filing and Tax Collection

  • The number of e-returns of Individual taxpayers filed till 5th August, 2017 (due date of filing) increased to 2.79 crore from 2.22 crore returns filed during the corresponding period of last year, registering an increase of about 57 lakh returns (25.3%).
  • The total number of all returns (electronic + paper) filed during the entire Financial Year 2016-17 was 5.43 crore which is 17.3% more than the returns filed during FY 2015-16.
  • For FY 2016-17, 1.26 crore new taxpayers (return filers + non-filers making tax payments) were added to the tax base (till 30.06.2017).

Increase in Direct Tax Collection

  • Collection of Advance Tax under Personal Income Tax (i.e. other than Corporate Tax) as on 05.08.2017 showed a growth of about 41.79% over the corresponding period in F.Y. 2016-2017.
  • Collection of Self Assessment Tax under Personal Income Tax showed a growth of 34.25% over the corresponding period in F.Y. 2016-2017.
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Niteesh Singh
Niteesh Singh
Niteesh is a Tax Researcher and Content Lead at H&R Block (India). He holds an MBA with a specialisation in BFSI domain. In his career spanning over six years, he has helped thousands of people understand taxes in a simple and effective manner. Outside work, Niteesh is an astronomy geek who is also involved in wildlife conservation activities.