From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Vivad se Vishwas scheme
Mains level : Paper 3- Measures adopted for increasing transparency and compliance in taxation.
Article explains the measures adopted in the Budget 2021-22 for increasing compliance and transparency.
Maintaining the status quo
- COVID-19 has upset fiscal maths around the world.
- It is in this context that the Union budget assumed significance this year.
- The expectations of tax breaks were rife on the presumption that this could boost economic activity.
- Whereas others called for a tax on stock market gains.
- Unyielding to such requests, the budget was based on a pragmatic approach to maintain the status quo.
Why higher tax rates would not help much
- Nearly 60 per cent of corporate taxes are paid by the 0.06 per cent of the companies belonging to the top income bracket.
- On the other hand, among individual taxpayers, only 0.17 per cent report taxable incomes above Rs 25 lakh.
- Therefore, higher taxes would either yield little revenue or adversely affect economic activity.
Need to shift focus to compliance and greater transparency
- For increasing compliance and transparency, significant proposals have been made:
- 1) Limited the window for reopening the case to 3 years.
- 2) The introduction of the requirement for an assessment officer to provide facts on the basis of which he/she re-assesses.
- 3) The faceless Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT).
- By making the process of assessment faceless the major causes for litigation are addressed.
- The limited window of re-opening cases for small taxpayers and due consideration of risk management strategy and the CAG’s observations in carrying out such assessments marks an improvement in the process.
Dispute resolution mechanism with better interface
- The Vivad se Vishwas scheme was launched in 2020 to address piling litigation and it is reported that collections under this scheme have been Rs 85,000 crore for 1,10,000 taxpayers.
- This is a small fraction as compared to the Rs 4.34 lakh crore in corporate taxes and Rs 4.49 lakh crore in income taxes that are locked in dispute.
- Therefore, a dispute resolution mechanism that allows for better interface between the taxpayer and the department may, in fact, be relatively beneficial.
Consider the question “Examine the reasons for small tax base in India. Examine the measures adopted in the Budget 2021-22 for increasing compliance and transparency.”
The budget estimates suggest that corporate tax and income tax collections are expected to increase by 22 per cent. With an expected growth rate of 14 per cent in nominal GDP, the remaining gains in taxes are presumably expected from higher compliance or realisation of taxes due. Whether this will pan out remains to be seen.