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Direct tax bill diluted to please industry
September, 01st 2010

The Direct Tax Code (DTC) Bill, which was tabled in Parliament on Monday, was a diluted version of the original draft, since the government took into account over 1,600 comments on the proposed law, revenue secretary Sunil Mitra said on Tuesday. These comments were nothing but complaints, and some aspects of the original act had left the industry complaining, while some public sector undertakings (PSUs) would have been unduly taxed, Mitra told Media.

He was in the city to attend the inaugural function of a foundation batch of civil service probationers held at the National Academy of Direct Taxes ( NADT).

However, Mitra also admitted that things would have been much different had the Goods and Services Tax (GST) got the go-ahead too. GST would have compensated for the loss of direct taxes, as it would have led to better compliance on the indirect tax front, he said.

"The GST regime would have prompted higher compliance by traders in order to avail the input credit available at every stage, thus increasing the tax pool in totality.

Unfortunately, there was no consensus among the states for a constitutional amendment for the new tax regime. The government will be losing around 55,000 crore by way of direct tax revenue on account of the new tax code," said the secretary.

On the minimum alternative tax (MAT) being kept on book profits, the secretary said an asset-based MAT would have left industries complaining. Moreover, there are several PSUs which have a huge asset base, but are reeling under losses. An asset-based MAT would have taxed such entities, he said.

Mitra said the 2014 deadline for profit-based tax exemptions for units in the special economic zones ( SEZs) will be a major tax-saver for the government. In the previous budget, the government took a hit of 80,000 crore on account of such exemptions, of which 25,000 crore accounts for exemptions on advance depreciation. It is expected the DTC will gradually reduce the loss by 55,000 crore, as the advance deprecation concession will remain in the asset-based exemption, which will be there after deadline.

The profit-based tax exemption has led to tax dodging by several unscrupulous corporates, who show the profits of non-exempt entities in the books of exempt entities. Asset-based exemption will rather help in creating capital assets, he said.

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