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The new old tax code
June, 16th 2010

This newspaper has always cheered the governments efforts to enforce a new direct tax code and move to a goods and services tax (GST) regime from a value-added tax one.

The direct tax code in particular promised to bring a certain stability to Indias tax rates, and make tax laws more rule-based than exception-based.

At first sight, the second draft of the direct tax code that was released by the government on Tuesday, disappoints on this count.

Many of the exemptions are back, as are some of the discretionary powers of the government to decide what is to be taxed and at what rate.

With more iterations likely, the direct tax code, when it comes into effect, could well be as complex and nuanced as the tax regime it replaces. Worse still, it might not achieve its desired objective of bestowing Indias tax laws with some degree of permanence.

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