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Budget may seek fresh excise, service tax rates
October, 27th 2006
The forthcoming budget could seek some tweaking of the excise and service tax rates as part of efforts to converge the rates at a later stage. At present, the average excise rate stands at 16 per cent, while it is 12 per cent for service tax. While finance ministry officials admit that a complete convergence of the two rates is not possible in the immediate future, there is merit in moving towards a common rate since at present a company can avail a 16 per cent cenvat on a service which attracts 12 per cent tax. Officials said a single rate would also be essential to ease the transition to a general goods and service tax. They pointed out that though the service tax base had been widened, the new services were not generating greater revenue. “The increased service tax collection is mainly on account of a wider base and not because of higher collection from new taxes,” an official said. The government has collected Rs 12,412 crore by way of service tax in the April-August period, which is around 65 per cent more than the collection of Rs 7,527 crore in the same period last year. Another proposal which the ministry is working on relates to introduction of mandatory electronic filing of tax returns for individuals.
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