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Government sets up council for consistent tax laws
February, 03rd 2016

The government has recast the institutional arrangement for tax reforms and legislation, creating a Tax Policy Council headed by the finance minister. This will approve broad policy measures to ensure consistency in direct and indirect tax changes.

The council will be assisted a Tax Policy Research Unit (TPRU), a multi-disciplinary body that will generate ideas for the former's consideration.

The new structure is based on the recommendations of the Tax Administration Reform Commission (TARC) that identified "handling of tax policy and related legislation as one of the areas which needs structural modifications" and suggested the new arrangement.

This function is currently handled separately by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) through the Tax Research Unit (TRU) and Tax Policy and Legislation (TPL) wings, respectively. Their proposals also reach the finance minister through separate channels.

"To bring consistency, multidisciplinary inputs, and coherence in policy making, TARC has recommended that a Tax Council supported by a common Tax Policy and Analysis (TPA) unit should be established to cater to needs of both direct and indirect taxes," the finance ministry said in a statement announcing the decision. "The above steps will enable the government to take an integrated view of direct and indirect taxes and obtain inputs from a broad spectrum of professionals. This will help in the formulation of balanced and forward-looking tax policies," said Sunil Shah, partner, Deloitte Haskins & Sells. The council will have the minister of state for finance, deputy chairman of NITI Aayog, minister of state for commerce and industry, finance secretary, DEA secretary, revenue secretary, commerce secretary, DIPP secretary and chief economic advisor as members.

The heads of CBDT and CBEC will be special invitees. "The Tax Policy Council will look at all the research findings coming from Tax Policy Research (TPRU) Unit and suggest broad policy measures for taxation," the statement said. The council will be advisory in nature and help the government identify key tax-related policy decisions. The government has also given a very clear mandate to TRPU.

Every tax proposal will explain the legislative intent, expected increase or decrease in tax collection and the likely economic impact.

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