In the backdrop of India being touted as a ‘bright star’ amongst world’s major economies and completing the cardinal landmark of demi-decade for her budget presentation, honorable Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled the final full year Budget 2023 in Lok Sabha ahead of national polls.
Notwithstanding economic uncertainties worldwide and global glooms, India has emerged as a key driver of global growth with an underlying emphasis on improving the ease of doing business.
Considering indirect taxes contributes a major chunk of government’s tax revenue (that is 53 per cent), the budget has introduced a gamut of indirect tax policy changes.
With moot impression to strengthen tax compliance process and ease the compliance burden, budget speech penned down contemporary reforms and policies under GST law to fulfil the long-cherished dream of Prime Minister christened as ‘one nation- one tax- one market’.
Government has over the time endeavored to put a halt on certain disputable areas by simplifying the indirect tax laws in order to reduce unwarranted litigation.
Aligning with various clarifications provided over the years by GST council, this year’s budget has further clarified the scope of “Non-taxable online recipient” by including all unregistered persons receiving Online Information Database Access and Retrieval services (OIDAR) services, whether or not for business or commerce. Further, scope of OIDAR has been widened by omitting the requirement of automation and human intervention.
With this amendment, ambiguity in relation to OIDAR services has been put to rest. Among others, few measures introduced include decriminalization of certain offences under GST law, streamlining of returns, etc.
Amongst the slew of proposals, it has now been clarified that input tax credit shall not be available on expenses incurred on corporate social responsibility mandated by the Companies Act. Said amendment has added to the already pressing matter in interpreting scope of furtherance of business and resultant credit eligibility for varied expenses such as IPO expenses, Covid-19 related expenses, employee expenses, etc.
Continuing with the theme to encourage domestic value addition and make in India, further changes in customs duty both upward and downward have been carried out in this budget working towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ by bringing in the measures promoting domestic value addition as well as encouraging use of green energy.
In line with idea of continued stability in indirect taxes and building a vital ecosystem of optimum regulation incepted in last few budgets, honorable minister duly recognized the need for ever evolving technology solutions and cutting edge artificial intelligence to pull off PM Modi’s vision of ‘Digital India’ and ‘Ease of Doing business’.
Coining the outlook of “Make AI in India and Make AI work for India” at the heart of digital revolution, this budget may galvanize an effective AI ecosystem necessary to nurture buoyancy in GST revenues and improve taxpayer morale and trust in the system.
Aiming to strike a balance between presenting a people centric stance yet adopting trust-based governance that ensures buoyancy in tax collections, tapping on tax evasions, the FM has proposed a budget that focuses on getting the fiscal house in order and would dictate the momentum of robust growth.
Upholding the bullish traction for India Inc, it is now to be seen how the general budget would fuel the economic mileage and generate dividends of prosperity thereby acting as a yardstick in determining the effectiveness of government’s policy reforms.
This article was originally published in Business Standard.