Finance

States receive Rs 39,175 crore as tax transfers in April

The Centre’s aggressive use of the cess route to bolster its own tax revenue has in recent years decelerated the growth of the divisible tax pool, thereby adversely impacting the states’ tax revenue.

State governments have received Rs 39,175 crore as tax devolution from the Centre in April, in line with the Budget estimate (BE) for FY22.

While the impact of lockdown on tax receipts will be felt in May, going by the previous year’s trend, the Centre may stick to BE for devolution in the initial months and do the adjustments towards the end of this fiscal, to factor in shortfall in receipts.

The Centre has set a devolution target of Rs 6.66 lakh crore in FY22, an annual increase of 12%.

In FY21, tax devolutions were normal in April-May, but it was lowered a bit from June onwards as revenues were hit by Covid-induced lockdown. Thanks to a buoyancy in tax revenues in Q4FY21, the Centre had released in total Rs 5.95 lakh crore or 8.2% more in devolution over the revised estimate (RE) for FY21. Yet, the devolution was Rs 1.89 lakh crore lower than the FY21BE of Rs 7.84 lakh crore. Devolution in FY21 was down 8.5% year-on-year while the Centre’s gross tax revenue (GTR) saw an increase of 0.6% on-year (at Rs 20.16 lakh crore).

The Centre’s aggressive use of the cess route to bolster its own tax revenue has in recent years decelerated the growth of the divisible tax pool, thereby adversely impacting the states’ tax revenue. Though trend was there throughout the 14th Finance Commission award period (FY16-FY20), it was most visible in FY20, with tax transfers declining, unconventionally. In FY20, tax transfers to states were down 15% on year.

The 14th Finance Commission upped states’ share in divisible tax pool to 42% from 32%. Ironically, augmented use of the cess/surcharge route by the Centre since then has resulted in a decline in states’ share in Centre’s gross tax receipts or GTR (including cess/surcharge proceeds).

As a percentage of GTR, tax transfers to states had jumped from 28% in FY13 to 35% in FY16, but has since fallen to 33% (RE) in FY20. As per a story by the Centre for Policy Research, the actual tax transfers to the states in the 14th FC period (FY16-20) were Rs 6,84,645 crore less than the level estimated by the commission due to lower revenue productivity than assumed.

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