GST may be delayed further as parties get poll-ready

The government announced the schedule of Parliament’s Budget session on Thursday with a hope of getting crucial Bills related to goods and services tax, bankruptcy, and real estate regulation cleared. But the Opposition parties appeared unrelenting as the session coincides with the elections in five states — West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry.

At the India Investment Summit on Thursday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed hope that the Opposition will “see reason” to ensure the passage of the goods and services tax (GST) constitution amendment Bill in the coming session. Jaitley said a joint committee of Parliament, which is examining the details of the bankruptcy and insolvency Bill, is expected to submit its report by the first week of March and the Bill might be passed in the Budget session itself.
However, until and unless either of the two sides bows down for the sake of legislative reforms, the upcoming session might be unproductive like the previous two because the Opposition commands a majority in the Rajya Sabha.

The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) on Thursday met to finalise the dates for the presentation of the Railway Budget (February 25), tabling of the Economic Survey (February 26) and presentation of the General Budget (February 29). The President’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament will be on February 23, the first day of the session. The first part of the session will end on March 16, with over a month-long recess from March 17 to April 24. The Houses will meet again from April 25 to May 13. In total, the session meant for financial business of the government will see 31 sittings over 81 days.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said he was optimistic that GST, real estate regulation, and bankruptcy Bills will be passed during the session.

He claimed to be in touch with the Congress and other “friendly” Opposition parties. He said the government has already discussed the three points of disagreement on GST with the Congress. Naidu had met Congress President Sonia Gandhi after the Winter session in early January.

However, sources in Congress said there has been no effort by the government to build bridges after the Winter session washout. The imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh is a sore point with the Congress. Also, all Opposition parties are preparing to corner the government on its “insensitive response” to the death of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi had visited the Hyderabad Central University twice to express solidarity with the protesting students. The Congress and other opposition parties also complain of the government’s “misuse” of investigative agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate.

Senior ministers met leaders of all political parties to explore whether there was any demand to curtail the session in view of the forthcoming state polls. The five states are scheduled to vote for a new government between the first week of April and first week of May. Both sides were unanimous in their support for a full session. Several members of the Parliament will be busy campaigning for the state polls and their attendance in the House is likely to be intermittent. In 2011, the month-long Budget session recess had been done away with because of the elections in these states. The then government had decided not to send the Finance Bill to the Standing Committees. The recess is the time given to department-related standing committees to examine the Budget proposals of different ministries and departments.

The assembly election dates are likely to be announced by first week of March. Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief and Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury said every year government should come out with a calendar of Parliament sittings so that there is no confusion. “The Election Commission will then decide the dates for elections knowing when Parliament is sitting. The Prime Minister will also know about the sittings and will remain in the House and not be abroad,” Yechury said.


Have You responded to income tax notice u/s 245?

There are a lot of taxpayers who are receiving intimation from the Income Tax Department under Section 245 of the Income Tax Act but they are often not able to understand the situation and what this actually means for them. In many cases the mere mention of some intimation from the tax department is enough to scare the taxpayer but this kind of step might require some quick action from the side of the investor and they have to pay attention to the details. There are now options to ensure that the right effect is given to the various conditions and the taxpayer does not end up suffering at the end of the day. Here is a look at the entire situation and how a taxpayer can respond to this kind of situation. Meaning of intimation The Income Tax Act allows the tax authorities to set off a refund that has to be paid by the tax department against some previous outstanding tax amount that the taxpayer has to be paid. However this does not mean that any adjustment can be done without the knowledge of the taxpayer. Under Section 245 this kind of adjustment can be done only after a proper notice is given to the taxpayer and they are given an opportunity of correcting any mistake that might have occurred in the raising of the demand. The intimation that is being received by the taxpayers is due to this condition wherein they are being informed that their current years refund is being adjusted against some past outstanding. First step The moment such intimation is received from the tax department the taxpayer has to first check the details of the previous outstanding tax demand against which the refund is being adjusted. This is significant because of the fact that it is not necessary that every past demand raised is correct. There have been a lot of cases wherein the demand raised have not been proper and hence the taxpayer does not have to pay this amount so this has to be taken care of. This will require some work on the part of the taxpayer because the previous demand can stretch back several years and to get the exact situation will require that the old details be looked at once again. Time period The intimation under Section 245 will also mention the time period during which the taxpayer has to respond after which if there is no reply then the adjustment would be completed. This time period is important and the earlier the reply is filed by the tax payer the better it is. In the online filing website the taxpayer will have to log in and under the e file segment they will need to go to the response to outstanding tax demand section. Here one can view the details of the demand and the reply can also be submitted here which can be under three heads. This would be that the demand is correct or it can be demand is partially correct and the third head is you disagree with the demand. There will be a way to reply to the outstanding demand but if this facility is not present then the meaning of the step is that the demand has already been finalised by the assessing officer. Since there is a specific time period that is allowed for the reply of the tax payer it is important for them to adhere to this as the facility for replying could then close which would end the matter. This is also the reason why every intimation needs to be seen immediately and then action taken in the matter.

Declarations and payments made under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015- regarding

The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 came into force with effect from 1st July, 2015. The Act provided for a one time compliance window to declare assets held abroad and pay due taxes and penalty on the value of assets declared.

A total of 644 declarations were made under the compliance window provided in the Act which closed on 30th September, 2015. The amount involved in these 644 declarations was 4,164 crores.

The declarants were liable to pay tax at the rate of 30 percent and a like amount of 30 percent by way of penalty on the value of assets declared, by 31st December, 2015. The amount received by way tax and penalty upto 31st December, 2015 is Rs 2,428.4 crores. The shortfall is primarily on account of certain declarations, in respect of which there was prior information under the provisions of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements/Tax Information Exchange Agreements or receipt of payment after 31st December, 2015.