The chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Pramod Chandra Mody, has said the tax payers’ charter announced in Budget 2020, will be notified very soon and once operationalised, India will be only the ‘third or fourth’ country to have such a tax administration. The CBDT frames policy for the I-T Department. “The underlying theme with which we have been working till now, is that we trust the tax payers and from purely an enforcement agency, we are shifting our focus to being a service-oriented department,” Mody said. “We are trying to promote voluntary compliance and in the process, we are also trying to put some discipline on us that we are willing to provide you these services within a given time-frame and with certain benchmarks and it would be tax payers’ right to expect those services,” he said.
Earlier, Mody said, these services were part of an administrative mechanism by way of an existing citizen’s charter. “Now we are giving it a statutory recognition. Once it is in the statute (in the law), it is enforceable. Earlier it was expected to be enforced but now it is binding and to that extent, it is the empowerment of the tax payer,” he said. Mody explained that the duties of a tax payer are ‘already provided’ in the Income-Tax Act regarding payment of tax, advance tax and doing tax deducted at source (TDS). “It (tax payers’ charter) will be a great empowerment and great service to the tax payer and incidentally this is not there in many tax jurisdictions. We would be the third or fourth country to have it in statute. I think the US, Canada and Australia have it. So it is a big, big responsibility we are taking,” he said.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed the charter in her Budget speech on February 1, 2020 and said the government would like to reassure tax payers that it remains committed to taking measures so that they are free from harassment of any kind. The minister said any tax system requires trust between tax payers and the administration, which would be possible only when the latter’s rights are clearly enumerated.
Union Budget 2020-21: Main highlights for real estate sector and tax payers
February 1, 2020: In a budget unveiled among a slowing economy, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman focused on the rural and infrastructure sectors. We look at the key takeaways for home buyers and developers
Income tax slabs
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on February 1, 2020, introduced new slabs and reduced the tax rate for different slabs for individual income, if the tax payer opts for foregoing exemptions and deductions. The new tax regime will be optional and the tax payers will be given the choice to either remain in the old regime with exemptions and deductions, or opt for the new reduced tax rate without those exemptions, she said in the Lok Sabha, while unveiling the Budget 2020-21.
Under the proposal, people with an annual income of Rs 5 lakhs to Rs 7.5 lakhs, will have to pay a reduced tax rate of 10 per cent; between Rs 7.5 lakhs and Rs 10 lakhs, 15 per cent; between Rs 10 lakhs and 12.5 lakhs, 20 per cent; between Rs 12.5 lakhs and 15 lakhs, 25 per cent; and above Rs 15 lakhs, 30 per cent, she said. The proposal would lead to a revenue sacrifice of Rs 40,000 crore per annum, she added.
Citing an example, she said, a person earning Rs 15 lakh per annum would be able to save Rs 78,000 in taxes by opting for the new tax regime.
Observing that there are about 100 tax exemptions and deductions, she said that 70 of them are being removed in the new simplified tax regime, while the remaining will be reviewed and examined in due course.
The government has proposed to extend the Rs 1.5 lakh additional waiver on interest for affordable housing loans, sanctioned on or before March 31, 2020, by a year. “A tax holiday is provided on the profits earned by developers of affordable housing project approved by March 31, 2020. In order to promote the affordable housing projects, I propose to extend the date of approval of affordable housing projects for availing this tax holiday by one more year. Currently, while taxing income from capital gains, business profits and other sources in respect of transactions in real estate, if the consideration value is less than circle rate by more than 5%, the difference is counted as income both, in the hands of the purchaser and seller. In order to minimise hardship in real estate transaction and provide relief to the sector, I propose to increase the limit of 5% to 10%,” the FM added.
The finance minister said 100 more airports will be developed by 2025, to support the UDAN scheme. Presenting the budget, Sitharaman said Rs 1.7 lakh crores had been provided for transport infrastructure in 2020-21.
Power and energy
The centre has proposed an outlay of Rs 22,000 crore for power and renewable energy sector for 2020-21, Sitharaman said. The finance minister also said the natural gas pipeline grid will be expanded to 27,000 kms from over 16,000 kms now and further reforms for transparent price discovery for natural gas will be undertaken.
“An eligible start-up having turnover up to 25 crores is allowed deduction of 100% of its the profits for three consecutive assessment years out of seven years if the total turnover does not exceed 25 crore rupees. In order to extend this benefit to larger start-ups, I propose to increase the turnover limit from the existing ‘Rs 25 crores to Rs 100 crores’. Moreover, considering the fact that in the initial years, a start-up may not have adequate profit to avail this deduction, I propose to extend the period of eligibility for claim of deduction from the existing 7 years to 10 years,” Sitharaman said.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country has increased to USD 284 billion during 2014-19, Sitharaman said. “India’s FDI got elevated to the level of USD 284 billion during 2014-19 from USD 190 billion that came in during the years 2009-14,” she said.
The government will bring out a policy for data centre parks throughout the country, the finance Minister added. The government has provided Rs 6,000 crores for BharatNet in FY21, she said adding that fibre-to-home through BharatNet will link 1 lakh gram panchayats this year. Presenting the budget, Sitharaman said all public institutions at gram panchayat levels such as police stations and post offices will be connected digitally. She also announced a Rs 8,000-crore outlay for National Mission on Quantum Technology and Application over 5 years.
Budget to boost housing sector; builders need to improve their image: PM Modi
Prime minister Narendra Modi hard-sold his government’s budget 2019 announcements, saying they will give a fillip to the real estate sector, which now has to work to improve its credibility with the masses
February 14, 2019: Addressing a real estate conference organised by CREDAI, prime minister Narendra Modi on February 13, 2019, said the government was constructing homes under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) at a rapid pace, to fulfil its ambitious target of providing ‘Housing for All by 2022’. Modi highlighted the steps taken by his government in the last four-and-a-half years, to boost the real estate sector. He said the new Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) and the benami property legislation, have helped in bridging the trust deficit between builders and consumers. The sector has also progressed on the ease of doing business and construction permits are being given at a fast pace, he said.
Talking about tax incentives for the housing sector announced in the interim budget 2019, the prime minister said that these sops would benefit both, the developers and home buyers. The move to exempt people earning up to Rs five lakhs from payment of income tax, will benefit the housing sector as the surplus will find its way into real estate, he said. “Youth will be encouraged to buy house with this exemption,” Modi said. In a lighter vein, Modi said that the prime minister himself has to explain the benefits of the budget provisions to developers, as they are still stuck on GST issues. He also listed out other incentives, such as increase in the tax deducted at source (TDS) threshold for rental income, from Rs 1,80,000 to Rs 2,40,000.
To boost the purchase of second homes, Modi said the government has announced that capital gains of up to Rs two crores could be rolled over for investment in two housing units, from the current one unit only. It also exempted tax on notional rent on a second self-occupied house. Similarly, Modi said, the period of exemption for levy of tax on notional rent on unsold inventories, had also been extended from one to two years. For boosting affordable housing, the prime minister said the 100 per cent deduction of profit under Section 80-IBA of the Income Tax Act, was being extended for one more year, to housing projects approved till March 2020.
He said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the sector had been reduced to eight per cent for affordable housing and 12 per cent for other under-construction homes. The GST rate on various construction material has also been brought down to 18 per cent from 28 per cent.
The prime minister asked developers to target the ‘neo middle-class’, as a large number of people are coming out of poverty. “Now is the time, the target should be on neo middle-class category,” he asserted. Expressing concern over the image of the sector, Modi asked developers to improve their credibility that has been affected, because of defaults by some builders. He also urged them to adopt new technologies for faster construction. “Real estate sector plays a catalytic role in providing employment. Do you get enough respect? Who is responsible?” he said and asked developers to focus on improving their image.
The prime minister said 1.5 crore houses for the poor had been built at twice the speed, to realise the target of Housing for All by 2022. He said there was no corruption in identifying the beneficiaries under the PMAY. “By 2022, all homeless will get a house,” he added. Modi said the central government has been trying to bring a positive change in the real estate sector, adding that demonetisation was one such measure, aimed at curbing the use of black money in the sector.