Posts tagged ‘Arun Jaitley’

03/10/2016

India tax amnesty draws $9.8bn in asset declarations — FT.com

Modi government claims progress in fulfilling election vow to crack down on ‘black money’

A four-month amnesty for tax evaders in India has resulted in the declaration of hidden assets worth nearly $10bn, the government has said, as it seeks to fulfil an election pledge to crack down on illicit “black money”.

The Income Declaration Scheme, which ran from June through September, allowed citizens to report assets previously undeclared to the tax authorities, without risk of prosecution. A charge of 45 per cent was to be levied on the assets declared under the scheme — one of the most conspicuous initiatives in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to tackle widespread corruption that is seen as a significant drag on the economy.

Arun Jaitley, finance minister, told reporters at the weekend that assets worth Rs652.5bn ($9.8bn) had been declared under the scheme, implying a boost to government revenue of Rs294bn. The amnesty attracted 64,275 declarations, with the average amount declared standing at Rs10.2m. Mr Jaitley cited this to rebut prior fears that the initiative might not elicit a response from wealthy Indians.

New Delhi had not publicly stated a revenue target, but some media reports had said officials were aiming to uncover about Rs1tn in previously undeclared assets.

The initiative followed a similar one launched in 1997 that yielded revenue of Rs97.6bn, but Mr Jaitley said that the latest drive was firmer in its treatment of evaders, arguing that the previous effort had allowed them to make payments based on unduly low valuations of their assets.$9.8bnA

mount of assets declared under India’s four-month tax amnesty

Only about 4 per cent of Indian adults pay income tax, according to the government’s latest economic survey. While the annual income of most Indians is below the Rs250,000 threshold beyond which income tax is due, the slender income tax base also reflects the extent of economic activity that occurs through informal transactions beyond the oversight of tax officials. Such activity amounts to about 20 per cent of gross domestic product, according to a recent report by analysts at Ambit Institutional Equities. That report argued that heightened official scrutiny of domestic transactions had encouraged tax evaders to keep money in cash, hitting demand for formal banking services as well as for property and gold — asset classes commonly used to launder money. Liases Foras, a property research company, estimated in 2014 that 30 to 40 per cent of Indian real estate transactions involved an illicit cash payment.

Firm progress in reducing tax evasion would boost the credibility of Mr Modi’s government, which made this a key part of its 2014 election manifesto. $343bnEstimated amount of assets Indians sent abroad illicitly between 2002 and 2011Central to the drive has been the pursuit of funds concealed in offshore accounts, of which Mr Modi pledged before his election “to bring back every rupee … and use it for the welfare of the poor”.

The US-based group Global Financial Integrity has estimated that Indians sent $343bn of assets abroad illicitly between 2002 and 2011.Last year India’s parliament passed a law imposing criminal penalties for the illicit concealment of overseas assets. This year the government scrapped a treaty with Mauritius under which investments from the island state were exempted from capital gains tax: an arrangement that had been criticised for allowing wealthy Indians to “round-trip” illicit funds back into the country.

Source: India tax amnesty draws $9.8bn in asset declarations — FT.com

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03/08/2016

India’s biggest tax reform GST looms, many companies unprepared | Reuters

Throughout years of political gridlock, the risk that India might pass its biggest tax reform since independence appeared reassuringly remote for many businesses.

Until now.Suddenly, the prospect that a new Goods and Services Tax (GST) could enter force next year has bosses panicking at the likely impact and seeking advice on how to cope.

The expected passage by parliament on Wednesday of a key constitutional amendment would resolve crucial issues needed to transform India’s $2 trillion economy and 1.3 billion consumers into a single market for the first time.

The amendment is likely to clear the Rajya Sabha after the opposition Congress party, which originally proposed the GST while in power, wrung concessions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government.

Yet the vote will only fire the starting gun in a legislative marathon in which the national parliament and India’s 29 federal states have to pass further laws determining the – still unknown – rate and scope of the tax.

At the same time, a huge IT system needs to be set up, tax collectors trained and companies brought up to speed on a levy that experts say will force them to overhaul business processes from front to back.

One boss who isn’t ready is G.R. Ralhan, head of Roamer Woollen Mills in the northern city of Ludhiana.

“Companies, particularly smaller ones, are apprehensive,” Ralhan told Reuters, calling for more time to adjust and saying a high rate of GST could put his firm out of business.

Countries that have introduced GST in the past have often faced a relative economic slowdown before the benefits of a unified tax regime feed through.

India is already the world’s fastest growing large economy, expanding by 7.9 percent year-on-year in the March quarter. Economists at HSBC forecast a boost of 0.8 percentage points from the GST within three to five years.

80-20 RULE

Tax experts say that only 20 percent of – mostly big – firms are getting ready for the GST. The rest are taking things as they come in a country where coping with a changing tax regime has been a way of life for decades.

Yet even those actively preparing must contend with a series of unknowns as the national and state parliaments tackle the task of transforming a “model” GST law into the real thing.

The first hurdle will be for a majority of state parliaments to pass the GST amendment, which would establish a GST Council to finalise key terms of the new tax.

That could take until November and mean that the legislation to put the GST into force would only come before the national parliament’s winter session.

Hitting the government’s target launch date of next April 1, the start of the fiscal year, looks ambitious. Slippage to July or October 2017 is increasingly likely, say experts.

Source: India’s biggest tax reform GST looms, many companies unprepared | Reuters