“As one more Indian fiscal year ended, it was yet again time to think of the various tax and fiscal developments in our country. On the airplane returning from an overseas trip in the first week of the new fiscal year, the familiar and comforting voice of the lady pilot announced the landing in Mumbai.
Few of my co- passengers and myself suddenly remembered not having the ubiquitous and all important landing card without which one couldn’t leave the airport for home. Pat came the cheerful reply from the steward that the requirement has been dispensed with for Indian citizens effective 1 st April,2016.Over two decades after setting foot for the first time overseas, it was an eerie feeling to be completely trusted by our Customs and walk out without any paper checks whatsoever. That’s when the mind travelled back to the various salutary measures undertaken by the Revenue Department in recent months to make life easier for taxpayers in India:
- Internal circulars have been issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to ensure prompt grant of refunds by giving credit of TDS on the basis of evidence submitted by the taxpayer. In fact, thousands of individual taxpayers were pleasantly surprised to receive direct credit of tax refund in their bank accounts for the fiscal year ended March 2014 BEFORE the calendar year 2015.
- Only selected cases to be taken upon for transfer pricing scrutiny on the basis of risk parameters and not on the basis of value of transaction.
- Only specified cases to be referred to Transfer Pricing Officer (TPO) where the selection of case is for non transfer pricing risk parameters
- In order to reduce litigation, the Department has clarified that consortium of contractors formed for executing EPC / turnkey contracts will not be treated as Association of Persons (AOP) for taxation purposes.
- Relaxation of stay of demand rules where tax officer has been instructed to grant stay of demand till disposal of appeal by Commissioner of Income tax (Appeals) on payment of 15% of disputed demand.
- The circumstances in which surplus from sale of shares and securities can be assessed as ‘capital gains’ or ‘business income’.
- Giving strict deadlines for taxpayer’s grievances redressal, giving effect to appellate orders / disposing of rectification applications, for disposing applications for lower withholding tax certificates etc.
- Income tax Department admitted that the tendency of the Assessing Officers (AO) to frame high-pitched and unreasonable assessment orders reflects harassment of taxpayers and leads to generation of unproductive work for the Department.
- A Committee of high-ranking officials constituted to examine whether there is a prima-facie case of high-pitched assessment, non-observance of principles of natural justice, non-application of mind , gross negligence or lack of involvement of assessing officer.
- Instruction issued that the time limit of six months for passing an order granting or refusing registration to charitable & religious trusts should be strictly adhered to
- Monetary limit (tax effect) for filing of appeals by Department before Tribunal, HC & SC has been raised to INR 1 million, 2 million and 2.5 million respectively.
– The Department has given instructions to the tax officers to withdraw pending appeals having tax effect less than that mentioned in the Circular.
As I briskly waded through the super efficient Immigration authorities at Mumbai airport(a far cry from the experiences at Heathrow and JFK), I couldn’t help feeling that the pilot’s words of welcoming fellow Indians back home never felt more comforting! Here is wishing an even more friendlier fiscal 2017 for fellow Indians and foreigners alike!”