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13th Mar 2023
Important keywords in Budget, Fiscal Policy and Taxation
Annual financial statement:
The Union Budget is the annual financial statement that contains the government’s revenue and expenditure for a fiscal year.
It may also include planned sales volumes and revenues, resource quantities, costs and expenses, assets, liabilities and cash flows.
The statement details the revenues from all sources, and expenditure on all activities that the government will undertake for the fiscal year. The fiscal year is calculated from 1 April-31 March.
Under Article 112 of the Constitution, the government has to present a statement of estimated revenue and expenditure for every fiscal. This statement is called the annual financial statement. This document is divided into three sections: For each of these funds, the central government is required to present a statement of revenue and expenditure.
1. Consolidated Fund:
The Consolidated Fund of India, created under Article 266 of the Indian Constitution, includes the revenues received by the government and expenses made by it.
All the revenue that the government receives through direct (income tax, corporation tax etc.) or indirect tax (Goods and Services Tax or GST) go into the Consolidated Fund of India.
Revenue from non-tax sources like dividends, profits from the PSUs, and income from general services also contribute to the fund. Recoveries of loans, earnings from disinvestment and repayment of debts issued by the Centre also contribute to the fund.
However, no money can be withdrawn for meeting expenses until the government gets the approval of the Parliament. Examples of expenditure include wages, salaries and pension of government employees, and other fixed costs. The repayment of debts incurred by the government is also done through the Consolidated Fund of India.
The Consolidated Fund of India is divided into five parts:
- Revenue account – receipts,
- Revenue account – disbursements,
- Capital account – receipts,
- Capital account – disbursements, and
- Disbursements ‘charged’ on the Consolidated Fund of India.
Disbursements ‘charged’ on the Consolidated Fund of India is a special category within the Consolidated Fund of India which is not put to vote in the Parliament.
This means whatever comes under this category need to be paid, whether the Budget is passed or not.
The salary and allowances of the President, speaker and deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha, chairman and deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, salaries and allowances of Supreme Court judges, pensions of Supreme Court and High Court judges come under this category.
Like the Consolidated Fund of India, the Contingency Fund of India constitutes a part of the annual financial statement.
Established under Article 267(1) of the Indian Constitution, the fund is maintained by the ministry of finance on behalf of the President of India.
As the name suggests, the Contingency Fund of India is an account maintained for meeting expenses during any unforeseen emergencies.
Parliamentary approval for such unforeseen expenditure is obtained, ex- post-facto, and an equivalent amount is drawn from the Consolidated Fund of India to recoup the Contingency Fund after such ex-post-facto approval.
3. Public account.
Article 266 of the Constitution defines the Public Account as being those funds that are received on behalf of the Government of India.
Money held by the government in a trust — such as in the case of Provident Funds, Small Savings collections, income of government set apart for expenditure on specific objects like road development, primary education, reserve/special Funds, etc — are kept in the Public Account.
Public Account funds do not belong to the government and have to be finally paid back to the persons and authorities that deposited them.
Parliamentary authorisation for such payments is not required.
However, when money is withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund with the approval of Parliament and kept in the Public Account for expenditure for a specific purpose, it is submitted for a vote in Parliament.
Appropriation Bill is a money bill that allows the government to withdraw funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to meet its expenses during the course of a financial year.
As per Article 114 of the Constitution, the government can withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund only after receiving approval from Parliament.
To put it simply, the Finance Bill contains provisions on financing the expenditure of the government, and Appropriation Bill specifies the quantum and purpose for withdrawing money.
The Constitution says that no money can be withdrawn by the government from the Consolidated Fund of India except under appropriation made by law.
For that, an appropriation bill is passed during the Budget process.
However, the appropriation bill may take time to pass through the Parliament and become a law. Meanwhile, the government would need permission to spend even a single penny from April 1 when the new financial year starts.
Vote on the account is the permission to withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund of India in that period, usually two months.
Vote on the account is a formality and requires no debate. When elections are scheduled a few months into the new financial year, the government seeks vote on account for four months. Essentially, vote on account is the interim permission of the parliament to the government to spend money.
Corporation tax is a direct tax imposed on the net income or profit that enterprises make from their businesses. Companies, both public and privately registered in India under the Companies Act 1956, are liable to pay corporation tax. This tax is levied at a specific rate according to the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
Fringe benefits tax (FBT):
The taxation of perquisites – or fringe benefits – provided by an employer to his employees, in addition to the cash salary or wages paid, is fringe benefits tax. It was introduced in Budget 2005-06. The government felt many companies were disguising perquisites such as club facilities as ordinary business expenses, which escaped taxation altogether. Employers have to now pay FBT on a percentage of the expense incurred on such perquisites.
A direct tax is paid directly by an individual or organization to the imposing entity. A taxpayer, for example, pays direct taxes to the government for different purposes, including real property tax, personal property tax, income tax, or taxes on assets. Direct taxes are based on the ability-to-pay principle. This economic principle states that those who have more resources or earn a higher income should pay more taxes.
In the case of indirect taxes, the incidence of tax is usually not on the person who pays the tax. These are largely taxes on expenditure and include Customs, excise and service tax.
Indirect taxes are considered regressive, the burden on the rich and the poor is alike. That is why governments strive to raise a higher proportion of taxes through direct taxes. Moving on, we come to the next important receipt item in the revenue account, non-tax revenue.
Other than taxation being a primary source of income, the government also earns a recurring income, which is called non-tax revenue. While sources of tax revenue are few, the sources of non-tax revenue are many, with the number of collections per source. Although there are many sources of non-tax revenue, the amount per source is much less than that for tax revenue.
For example, when citizens use services offered by the government, they pay bills, which are categorised as non-tax revenue, as the government provides infrastructure support to implement the services. Non-tax revenue also includes the interest collected by the government on the loans or funds offered to states.
Grants-in-aid and contributions
The third receipt item in the revenue account is relatively small grants-in-aid and contributions. These are in the nature of pure transfers to the government without any repayment obligation.
These include expense incurred on organs of state such as Parliament, judiciary and elections. A substantial amount goes into administering fiscal services such as tax collection. The biggest item is the interest payment on loans taken by the government. Defence and other services like police also get a sizeable share. Having looked at receipts and expenditure on revenue account we come to an important item, the difference between the two, the revenue deficit.
Revenue deficit arises when the government’s revenue expenditure exceeds the total revenue receipts.
Revenue deficit includes those transactions that have a direct impact on a government’s current income and expenditure. This represents that the government’s own earnings are not sufficient to meet the day-to-day operations of its departments. Revenue deficit turns into borrowings when the government spends more than what it earns and has to resort to the external borrowings.
Revenue Deficit= Total revenue receipts – Total revenue expenditure.
Revenue Deficit deals only with the government’s revenue receipts and revenue expenditures.
Note that revenue receipts are receipts which neither create liability nor lead to a reduction in assets.
It is further divided into two heads:
- Receipt from Tax (Direct Tax, Indirect Tax)
- Receipts from Non-Tax Revenue
Revenue Expenditure is referred to as the expenditure that does not result in the creation of assets reduction of liabilities. It is further divided into two types
- Plan revenue expenditure
- Non-plan revenue expenditure
The fiscal deficit is defined as an excess of total budget expenditure over total budget receipts excluding borrowings during a fiscal year. In simple words, it is the amount of borrowing the government has to resort to meet its expenses. A large deficit means a large amount of borrowing. The fiscal deficit is a measure of how much the government needs to borrow from the market to meet its expenditure when its resources are inadequate.
Primary deficit is defined as a fiscal deficit of current year minus interest payments on previous borrowings.
Primary deficit= Fiscal deficit – Interest payment on the previous borrowing
In other words, whereas fiscal deficit indicates borrowing requirement inclusive of interest payment, the primary deficit indicates borrowing requirement exclusive of interest payment (i.e., amount of loan).
We have seen that borrowing requirement of the government includes not only accumulated debt, but also interest payment on the debt. If we deduct ‘interest payment on debt’ from borrowing, the balance is called the primary deficit.
Public debt receipts and public debt disbursals are borrowings and repayments during the year, respectively. The difference is the net accretion to the public debt. Public debt can be split into internal (money borrowed within the country) and external (funds borrowed from non-Indian sources). Internal debt comprises treasury bills, market stabilisation schemes, ways and means advance, and securities against small savings.
Ways and means advance (WMA):
One of RBI’s roles is to serve as banker to both central and state governments. In this capacity, RBI provides temporary support to tide over mismatches in their receipts and payments in the form of ways and means advances.
This is an additional levy on the basic tax liability. Governments resort to cess for meeting specific expenditure.
Dividend distribution tax:
A dividend is a return given by a company to its shareholders out of the profits earned by the company in a particular year. Dividend constitutes income in the hands of the shareholders which ideally should be subject to income tax.
However, the income tax laws in India provided for an exemption of the dividend income received from Indian companies by the investors by levying a tax called the Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) on the company paying the dividend. This tax has been abolished in the 2020-21 budget.
FRBM Act 2003:
The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM Act), 2003, establishes financial discipline to reduce the fiscal deficit.
What are the objectives of the FRBM Act?
The FRBM Act aims to introduce transparency in India’s fiscal management systems. The Act’s long-term objective is for India to achieve fiscal stability and to give the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) flexibility to deal with inflation in India. The FRBM Act was enacted to introduce a more equitable distribution of India’s debt over the years.
Key features of the FRBM Act
The FRBM Act made it mandatory for the government to place the following along with the Union Budget documents in Parliament annually:
1. Medium Term Fiscal Policy Statement
2. Macroeconomic Framework Statement
3. Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement
The FRBM Act proposed that revenue deficit, fiscal deficit, tax revenue and the total outstanding liabilities be projected as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in the medium-term fiscal policy statement.
Fiscal Performance Index (FPI)
- The composite FPI developed by CII is an innovative tool using multiple indicators to examine the quality of Budgets at the Central and State levels.
- The index has been constructed using UNDP’s Human Development Index methodology which comprises six components for holistic assessment of the quality of government budgets, subsidies, pensions and defence in GDP
- Quality of capital expenditure: measured by the share of capital expenditure (other than defence) in GDP
- Quality of revenue: the ratio of net tax revenue to GDP (own tax revenue in case of States)
- Degree of fiscal prudence I: fiscal deficit to GDP
- Degree of fiscal prudence II: revenue deficit to GDP and
- Debt index: Change in debt and guarantees to GDP
Other measures of FPI
- As per the new index, expenditure on infrastructure, education, healthcare and other social sectors can be considered beneficial for economic growth.
Sabka Vishwas-Legacy Dispute Resolution Scheme
- This Scheme is introduced to resolve and settle legacy cases of the Central Excise and Service Tax.
- The proposed scheme would cover all the past disputes of taxes which may have got subsumed in GST; namely Central Excise, Service Tax and Cesses.
- The Government expects the Scheme to be availed by a large number of taxpayers for closing their pending disputes relating to legacy Service Tax and Central Excise cases that are now subsumed under GST so they can focus on GST.
- The Scheme is, especially, tailored to free a large number of small taxpayers of their pending disputes with the tax administration.
Components of the Scheme
- The two main components of the Scheme are dispute resolution and amnesty.
- The dispute resolution component is aimed at liquidating the legacy cases of Central Excise and Service Tax that are subsumed in GST and are pending in litigation at various forums.
- The amnesty component of the Scheme offers an opportunity to the taxpayers to pay the outstanding tax and be free of any other consequence under the law.
- The most attractive aspect of the Scheme is that it provides substantial relief in the tax dues for all categories of cases as well as full waiver of interest, fine, penalty,
- In all these cases, there would be no other liability of interest, fine or penalty. There is also a complete amnesty from prosecution.
Direct Tax Code:
- The Direct Tax Code (DTC) is an attempt by the Government of India to simplify the direct tax laws in India.
- It will revise, consolidate and simplify the structure of direct tax laws in India into a single legislation.
- When implemented, it will replace the Income-tax Act, 1961 (ITA), and other direct tax legislation like the Wealth Tax Act, 1957.
- The task force was constituted by the government to frame draft legislation for this proposed DTC in November 2017 and review the existing Income Tax Act.
- These are the taxes, paid directly to the government by the taxpayer. Under the direct tax system, the incidence and impact of taxation fall on the same entity, which cannot be transferred to another person.
- It is termed as a progressive tax because the proportion of tax liability rises as an individual or entity’s income increases.
- Examples- Income tax, corporate tax, Dividend Distribution Tax, Capital Gain Tax, Security Transaction Tax.
- The system of Direct taxation is governed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). It is a part of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.
- A corporate tax also popularly known as the company tax or the corporation tax is the tax levied on the capital or income of corporations or analogous legal entities.
- In most countries, such taxes are levied at the national level, and a tax that is similar to that imposed at the national level could be imposed at the local or state levels.
- The taxes could also be termed as capital tax or income tax.
- Generally, Partnership firms are not taxed at the entity level.
- In most of nations, the corporations functioning in a country are taxed for the income from that country.
- Many countries tax all income of corporations incorporated in the country or those deemed to be resident for tax purposes in the country.
- The income of the company that is to be taxed is computed similarly to the taxable income for individuals.
- Tax is generally imposed on net profits.
- In India, companies, both private and public which are registered in India under the Companies Act 1956, are liable to pay corporate tax.
Securities transaction tax (STT)
- Sale of any asset (shares, property) results in loss or profit. Depending on the time the asset is held, such profits and losses are categorised as long-term or short-term capital gain/loss.
- In Budget 2004-05, the government abolished long-term capital gains tax on shares (tax on profits made on the sale of shares held for more than a year) and replaced it with STT.
- It is a kind of turnover tax where the investor has to pay a small tax on the total consideration paid/received in a share transaction.
Banking cash transaction tax (BCTT)
- Introduced in Budget 2005-06, BCTT is a small tax on cash withdrawal from bank exceeding a particular amount in a single day.
- The basic idea is to curb the black economy and generate a record of big cash transactions
- This is an additional levy on the basic tax liability Governments resort to cess for meeting specific expenditure. For instance, both corporate and individual income is at present subject to an education cess of 2%.
- In the last Budget, the government had imposed another 1% cess – secondary and higher education cess on income tax – to finance secondary and higher education.
Countervailing Duties (CVD)
- Countervailing duty is a tax imposed on imports, over and above the basic import duty CVD is at par with the excise duty paid by the domestic manufacturers of similar goods
- This ensures a level playing field between imported goods and locally-produced ones.
- An exemption from CVD places the domestic industry at the disadvantage and over long run discourages investments in affected sectors.
- This is a tax levied on exports. In most instances, the object is not revenue, but to discourage exports of certain items.
- In the last Budget, for instance, the government imposed an export duty of Rs 300 per metric tonne on the export of iron ores and concentrates and Rs 2,000 per metric tonne on the export of chrome ores and concentrates.
- A pass-through status helps avoid double taxation. Mutual funds, for instance, enjoy pass-through status.
- The income earned by the funds is tax-free. Since mutual funds’ income is distributed to the unit-holders, who are in turn taxed on their income from such investments any taxation of mutual funds would amount to double taxation.
- Essentially, it means the income is merely passing through the mutual funds and, therefore, should not be taxed.
- The government allows venture funds in some sectors pass-through status to encourage investments in start-ups.