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Budget Likely To Cut Tax Rates For Individual Taxpayer

The government is likely to trim personal income tax rates and cut the tax on long-term capital gains from equity investments in its next budget, in a bid to spur economic growth, four government officials.

Government officials are also debating whether to offer more help to troubled financial services and whether to increase import duties boost private investments and domestic manufacturing.

"We are discussing tinkering with ... income tax rates so that more money is put in the people's hands," a senior government official directly involved in budget discussions told news agency Reuters.

Many groups have been urging the government to cut personal income tax rates to spur demand and lift economic growth, which sank to a six-year low of 4.5 per cent in the July-September quarter from 7 per cent a year ago.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this year cut corporate tax rates to 15 per cent for new manufacturers and to 22 per cent for existing companies, from about 30 per cent.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to present the budget for fiscal year 2020-21 on February 1. She has promised a budget that will do more to boost growth.

Another government official said a proposal to relax long-term capital gains on stock investments was under consideration, to attract investors.

"There are various suggestions, including completely removing it," the official said, adding the issue was discussed at the level of the Prime Minister's office. He said a final decision was still to be taken.

The government might also change import duties on select items to promote domestic manufacturing, a trade ministry official said.

Industry groups have urged the government to withdraw the long-term capital gains tax to encourage retail investment in mutual funds and shares, instead of other assets like gold or real estate.

"Additional net disposable income resulting from reduction in personal tax rates could enhance consumption and spur overall demand for goods and services," the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said in a submission to the government.

Arvind Kejriwal makes electricity cheaper for lawyers; announces medical, life insurance for advocates

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday announced that domestic electricity charges would apply at courts' chambers. Kejriwal said there were some longstanding demands of lawyers that the party had promised to fulfil. "We had set aside Rs 50 crore for their welfare, and a committee was set up to decide how to spend it. Committee has made four demands, and the cabinet has accepted all of them," he added.

The Delhi CM said all the lawyers, who are voters in Delhi, would also get medical insurance of up to Rs 5 lakh and life insurance of up to Rs 10 lakh. Besides, e-libraries and creches will be started in all court premises.

Polls to the 70-member Delhi Assembly are due early next year. While Kejriwal-led party is hoping to repeat its the 2014 election win, the BJP led by Manoj Tiwari is also trying its best to dethrone the party. AAP had secured a major victory in 2014 Assembly polls by winning on 67 out of 70 seats.

Kejriwal-led party has recently made several announcements for the middle class ahead of the upcoming elections. The Chief Minister announced that DTC buses and the Delhi Metro would be free for women in the national capital. He said the Delhi government would bear the expense, which would be approximately Rs 1,600 crore for a year.

He had also assured to make Delhi Metro free for women but that is yet to take place. Kejriwal also announced to make Wi-Fi free at public places. Under this plan, he said, a total of 11,000 Wi-Fi hotspots would be set up across bus stops and markets.

Before that, the Aam Aadmi Party leader had also made electricity free for Delhi residents for up to 200 units. He said residents would need to pay half the price for consumption between 201 and 400 units. The Delhi government, however, is facing criticism and questions over its expenditure and overstepping spending rules in 26 areas, including health, education, city development and social welfare.

Tata veteran Srinath leads race to head Tata Trusts

N Srinath, managing director, Tata Teleservices has reportedly emerged as the prime candidate to lead Tata Trusts. Srinath is likely to become the next CEO of India's largest public charitable organisation. Tata Trusts is the largest shareholder in Tata Sons Ltd with a 66% stake.

57-year old Srinath who is an old-timer from the Tata group is likely to take charge in early 2020. He is expected to be offered CEO's position unlike R Venkataramanan who held the post of managing trustee.

Srinath emerged as the top choice for the CEO post by a three-member committee, headed by Ratan Tata. He joined the Tata Group in 1986 and has also served Ratan Tata as his executive assistant.

Besides his current post at Tata Teleservices, Srinath is also in the board of Tata Communications.

Born in the year 1962, Srinath holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT (Chennai) and a Management Degree from IIM (Kolkata), specialising in Marketing and Systems.

He has held several positions in Project Management, Sales & Marketing, and Management in different Tata companies in the ICT sector over the last three decades.

Srinath was appointed as Tata Teleservices Ltd's managing director on February 1, 2011. He is also a Director of Tata Communications Ltd., Tata Industries Ltd. and is also an Independent Director of Honeywell Automation India Ltd.

Big tax cuts may be coming for middle class in next Budget

The government is mulling a restructuring of personal income tax rates to encourage the middle class to spend more in its bid to boost consumption. The finance ministry is currently holding discussions to present concrete proposals in next year's Union Budget.

Responding to a question at an event in Delhi recently, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also said that the government was looking at myriad suggestions and the relaxation on personal income tax was one of them before it presents the Union Budget 2020 in February next year.

Those earning up to Rs 5 lakh don't have to pay any tax on their incomes at present. However, people earning more than that may have more disposable income at their discretion after the government revamps the slab system.

The government has the option to look at income tax slabs suggested in the draft direct tax code readied by Akhilesh Ranjan, former member of the central board of direct taxes (CBDT). The report has not been released yet. However, it had suggested changes in the personal income tax slabs to provide benefit to middle and upper-middle-class Indians, according to a report in the Livemint.

Individuals earning between Rs 2.5-Rs 10 lakh may have to pay income tax at the rate of 10% while those making between Rs 10-20 lakh are likely to be taxed at 20%.

Lastly, the direct tax report has also recommended a 30 per cent income tax slab for taxpayers earning between Rs 20 lakh to Rs 2 crore per year and a new tax rate of 35% (without surcharges) for individuals earning over Rs 2 crore per annum.

Currently, those earning up to Rs 2.5 lakh per year are exempted from paying income tax while individuals earning between Rs 2.5-5 lakh attract a 5% tax rate and those in the income group of Rs 5-10 lakh are taxed at 20%. Individuals earning above Rs 10 lakh have to pay tax at the rate of 30%. Those in the income bracket of Rs 1 crore, Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore come under a three-layered surcharge.

FM Sitharaman says govt will pay states' share of GST; 'compact will be honoured'

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the Centre government would keep its "compact" with states when it comes to sharing of cess collected through Goods and Services Tax (GST). She said there was a delay in transfer of cess to states as it was not "adequate". "In the last GST collection, the cess fund wasn't adequate ...so the states didn't get the 14 per cent compensation. When we collect the required cess, we will honour the compensation rate," the FM said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Saturday. The FM also added: "It's not that the compact has been broken. The compact will be honoured".

Kerala had last week threatened to drag the Centre to the Supreme Court over delay in compensation to states. Notably, the Centre is yet to pay states' GST share due for the past four months. The finance ministers of Kerala, Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh had even met the FM in this regard this week.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) panel, which is concerned over the declining revenue, is planning to introduce several key measures to increase collection, including increasing the 5 per cent tax slab to 6 per cent and raising tax on cigarettes and aerated drinks.  The high-powered GST panel is scheduled to hold crucial consultations with states and GST officials on December 18. However, there is no official confirmation in this regard.

A Business Standard report earlier said raising of the tax slab to 6 per cent could bring in additional revenue of over Rs 1,000 crore a month to the government. "An idea that has emerged is increasing the 5 per cent slab to 6 per cent, which will mean 3 per cent GST each for the Centre and states. Some states are arguing that this will mean a 20 per cent increase in the tax rate. But in value terms it will not be much," a government official told daily.

There are a total of five tax slabs, including zero, 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent. Of these, 18 per cent tax slab accounts for a maximum of 60 per cent GST tax collection, while 5 per cent tax slab accounts for just 5 per cent. Other two slabs -- 12 per cent and 28 per cent -- generate 13 per cent and 22 per cent tax revenue of the total collection for the government.

In a bid to tackle dwindling GST collections, the government had formed a committee of officers in October this year to suggest measures to boost collections and make businesses comply voluntarily. The committee has commissioners from state GST council of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab along with Joint Secretary and Executive VP of GST Council.

The committee was formed after GST collections fell sharply to a 19-month low of Rs 91,916 crore in September. Tax collections stood at Rs 95,380 crore in October. However, in a little respite, the GST collections crossed Rs 1 lakh crore mark to Rs 1.03 lakh crore in November. After two months of negative growth, GST revenues witnessed recovery with a positive growth of 6 per cent on a yearly basis during the month under review.

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