Dr. Sanjiv Agarwal

The full Budget of 2014-15 is going to be the first official opportunity to implement the economic agenda where in Government will have to do a fine but difficult task of managing the conflicting needs of variety of stakeholders – business & industry, trade, commerce, exporters, banks, investors, agriculturists, house-holds, society and politics as well. The forthcoming budget should not only be investor friendly and taxpayer friendly but also be forward looking and progressive giving policy directions and accelerating growth.

Initiated by earlier NDA Government, GST has been talked about by all Governments since then. Now that we have a stable Government, the Budget should clearly redefine the road map to much awaited GST and announce a sunset date for the transition to GST regime. It could be 2015 or even 2016, given the issues pending with the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on GST.

The BJP Government is likely to make implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) a priority as it gets down to work. The Finance Minister held a meeting with officials of the Revenue Department of direct tax and indirect tax to get an overview of the taxation issues. The Revenue Department has been asked to prepare a presentation for the new Finance Minister, detailing the features and architecture of GST, the areas of disagreement with State Governments and other issues that have delayed the implementation of the indirect tax regime. The Finance Minister is also expected to soon meet various State Finance Ministers to sort out differences and ensure an early rollout of GST. It is hoped that new Government may be able to move the official amendments to the Constitution Amendment Bill, key to the introduction of GST in the monsoon session of Parliament.

It has already been hinted out that the Government is keen on early rollout of GST. The BJP manifesto had promised to bring on board all State Governments in adopting GST. Earlier Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh were opposed to GST format but since both these states are governed by the same ruling party as at the centre, there is bound to be greater harmony this time which may pave a way for earlier implementation. Finance Minster will have to build consensus about the GST among State Governments. GST ought to be the top priority in the Budget.

On indirect tax front, while there is a need for systemic reforms and forward looking pro-growth steps in general, the Budget should lay emphasis on the following specific issues, besides laying a clear-cut road map for GST implementation:

  • Simplification of tax / duty structure with few rates at least for one year till economy is back in black
  • Reduction of Excise and Service Tax rates by atleast two percent to boost production, growth in services and address inflation
  • Abolish education cesses and have separate allocation for the same
  • Remove confusion and double taxation / overlapping tax regime with simultaneous levy of VAT as well as Service Tax in certain cases
  • There should be no tax on tax and definition of sale consideration must be amended in all VAT laws. This will reduce considerable confusion and avoid litigation
  • Refunds in Excise and Service Tax should be made simpler, faster and hassle free
  • Benefits / exemption to special economic zones be rationalized
  • There should be no retrospective tax provisions which give rise to tax liability. There has to be no room for uncertainty
  • Multiple audits and investigations must be stopped. There should be single point jurisdiction for enquires, investigation, audit, adjudication etc.
  • Presently adjudication has no prescribed limits. A time limit for adjudication process to be completed must be specified. Not only this, there should be time limit for issuing orders after personal hearing is done (say 2 months). Erring officials ought to be penalized
  • The present law does not provide for transferring the cases to call book where cases are pending at higher / appellate forums but this practice is followed blatantly. Such practice only hampers the process and adversely impacts both-revenue as well as tax payer as tax liability continues without recovery and assessee is burdened with the risk of interest, in the event of demand getting confirmed.
  • Routine aggressive stand on investigations and during search may be avoided. Arrests be made only when recovery is not forthcoming even after allowing time / opportunity
  • Tax administration ought to be made more accountable and assessee friendly
  • Tax reforms must also look at lowering of compliance costs.
  • Cenvat credit mechanism may be made simpler and reduce administrative cost
  • Excise duty cuts shall boost industrial growth and consumption
  • Tax audit on the lines of income tax may be introduced in Service Tax
  • Department officers ought to be trained in law, interpretation and time management skills
  • CST rates may be lowered in the wake of GST.

So far as tax administration and reforms are concerned, it is expected that besides introducing DTC and GST at the earliest, it should aim at enhancing efficiency in tax administration, cutting down on tax collection costs, making law simpler and reducing tax litigation – existing and potential, substantially.

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0 responses to “Expectations from Budget 2014-15 in Indirect Taxes”

  1. Sanjiv Agarwal says:

    Dear Mr Rao,

    GST may still take some time – may be we have GST by 2016. We have to live with service tax till GST comes. Also, service tax audit by professionals will only save assessees from many hassles.

  2. B.S.K.RAO says:

    DR.SANJIV AGARWAL SAB,

    YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT SIMPLIFIED TAX REGIME & INSERTING TAX AUDIT CERTIFICATES IN SERVICE TAX LIKE THAT OF INOCME-TAX. SIR, IN VIEW OF TAX AUDIT CERTIFICATE IN INCOME-TAX ACT, COST OF COMPLIANCE HAS GONE-UP. AS GST IS GOING TO COME, WE MAY NOT REQUIRED TO DISCUSS ABOUT SERVICE-TAX.

  3. Rasu Sharma says:

    The issues pointed out in this Article by the author, if implemented, will be a great gift for the assessees specially for those companies who come India from a foreign territory and established their manufacturing units in India. These provisions would generate trust in the mind of NRIs and will increase FDI in India thereby boosting Indian economy. Thanks fir such a valuable article.

  4. Rajesh, Mumbai says:

    Good article.

    Agarwalji, some more expectations.

    On Imports, their is 2+1% cess on Custom duty and also on Excise duty. No cenvat is allowed on cess paid on Excise while excise is cenvatable. Why ?.

    CST must be abolished or atleast set off must be given of first CST paid for second OMS sale till GST in place.

    Expected GST Rate : 10+5% (Central GST + State GST).No Octroi, LBT, Service Tax, Entry Tax, surcharge, Toll Tax etc anywhere in the country.

    at first point. 10% CGST can be charged. 5% SGST should be charged inside State.For Example : 1) Gujarat manufacturer/Dealer will charge 10% CGST only if sale is interstate (suppose in to maharashtra) 2) plus 5% SGST if sale in Gujarat only.3) Maharashtra purchaser will charge 10% CGST only if He further sells interstate and will claim set off of CGST paid to Gujarat Dealer.4) If Maharashtra dealer sells in Maharashtra only, He will charge both CGST and SGST and will claim set off of only CGST.5) Again,If second Maharashtra Dealer sells in Maharashtra, He will charge both CGST and SGST, and claim set off of both CGST and SGST paid by him.6) If second maharashtra dealer sells interstate, then He will only charge CGST and claim set off of both CGST and SGST paid by him. In this way, Total CGST earned on ultimate sale price must go to goods producing State and Total SGST must go to Goods consuming state.with this era of Technology, It can be implemented in very Easy, and dealer friendly way.

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