Taxation policies have always held an indomitable position in the economic corridors. As these policies finance Government spending, they will empire us as long as the system of governance subsists. Budget 2017 focused on themes of transformation, energisation and cleaning the corruption.
Broad announcement with respect to the GST was made to reiterate July 1 as the date for the landmark reform. Indirect tax rates have not been significantly changed as the transition to the GST appears to be on schedule. Service tax exemption has been provided to services provided by Army, Naval and Air Force group insurance funds, services provided by IIMs by way of two year full time residential programs and in respect of viability gap funding payable to the selected airline operator. However, exemption has been withdrawn of the R&D cess paid for import of technology.
Due to the prevailing global economy slowdown, there were fears of various goods being dumped into India and accordingly the customs duty has been increased on several goods. However, the customs duty, as expected, has been reduced on various goods such as LNG, catalyst and resin, solar tempered glass, nickel and articles thereof, micro ATMs and parts of these devices and miniaturized POS card reader, which form part of procurement for the domestic sector.
With an objective to boost the domestic manufacturing, excise duty concessions were expected. Announcing major boost to digital payment sector, various excise and customs duty benefits were proposed for equipment used by the sector. Further, excise duty benefits are extended to cast components of wind operated electricity generator, membrane sheet to manufacture reverse osmosis membrane for filters and solar tempered glass & parts thereof.
Interestingly, pending applications before the Authority for Advance Ruling (Central Excise, Customs and Service Tax) would be transferred to that constituted under the Income Tax Act. While the budget focused on stimulating growth, promoting digital economy and improving tax administration, it could have been a much better version.
Author: Abhishek A Rastogi, Partner, Khaitan & Co