- Easwar panel on Income tax for raising threshold for TDS deduction
- Increase in renewable energy use to boost global GDP by $1.3 trillion
Environment & Ecology
- Sikkim becomes the first fully organic state of India
Easwar panel on Income tax for raising threshold for TDS deduction
A committee set up by the government to change direct tax laws has suggested several taxpayer-friendly measures to improve the ease of doing business, reduce litigation and accelerate the resolution of tax disputes.
- The 10-member committee under retired high court judge R.V. Easwar, to overhaul the income-tax act of 1961 to remove ambiguities in the tax laws that cause unnecessary litigation and update the laws based on various judgements, has recently submitted its first report to the centre.
Some of these recommendations that require amendments to the income-tax act are likely to be a part of the Union budget to be presented on 29 February while some other changes in administrative procedure can be implemented through official notifications by the income tax department.
- The committee has recommended simplifying provisions related to tax deducted at source (TDS), claims of expenditure for deduction from taxable income and for tax refunds. The committee has recommended that TDS rates for individuals be reduced to 5% from 10%. However, one of the members of the 10-member committee raised concerns that lower TDS rates may impact revenue collections.
- It proposed deferring the contentious Income Computation and Disclosure Standards (ICDS) provisions and making the process of refunds faster.
- The committee has asked the income-tax department to desist from the practice of adjusting tax demand of a taxpayer whose tax return is under assessment against legitimate refunds due.
- It has also proposed deletion of a clause that allows the tax department to delay the refund due to a taxpayer beyond six months and suggested a higher interest levy for all delays in refunds.
- The panel also proposed that stock trading gains of up to Rs.5 lakh will be treated as capital gains and not business income, a move that could encourage more retail investments in the stock market.
- It has also clarified that dividend income on which dividend distribution tax has been levied should be treated as part of total income.
- It also sought to provide an exemption to non-residents not having a Permanent Account Number (PAN), but who furnish their Tax Identification Number (TIN), from the applicability of TDS at a higher rate.
- “Taxpayers are already grappling with regulatory changes of the Companies Act, 2013, Ind-AS (Indian accounting standards) and the proposed GST (goods and services tax). Industry should be allowed more time to deal with another change of this nature. The committee understands that the taxpayers feel that many of the provisions of the ICDS are capable of generating a legal debate about which at present there is no clarity,” the report said.
- The committee also recommended that most of the processes of the income-tax department should be conducted electronically to minimize human interface. To this effect, it suggested that processes such as filing of tax returns, rectification of mistakes, appeal, refunds and any communication regarding scrutiny including notices, questions and documents sought should be done electronically.
- To make it easy for small businesses, the committee recommended that the eligibility criteria under the presumptive scheme be increased to Rs.2 crore from Rs.1 crore. It also recommended launching a similar scheme for professionals.
- The presumptive tax is levied on an estimated income and makes life (and work) easier for small businesses. Under the presumptive income scheme, such professionals or businesses will not need to maintain a book of accounts but just pay tax based on presumptive income calculations.
At present, an estimated Rs.5 trillion is locked up in litigation across various courts and tribunals.
[Ref: Live Mint, ET]
Increase in renewable energy use to boost global GDP by $1.3 trillion
A new study titled ‘Renewable Energy Benefits: Measuring the Economics’, released at Abu Dhabi during the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) sixth assembly session.
- The report provides the first global estimate of the macroeconomic impacts of renewable energy deployment.
Key findings of the report:
- A 36 % share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 would increase global gross domestic product by nearly $1.3 trillion, generating millions of jobs and helping countries like India dependent on importing oil and gas, a new study says.
- The report also analyses country-specific impact and found out that global GDP in 2030 would increase by up to $1.3 trillion — more than the combined economies of Chile, South Africa and Switzerland as of today.
- Japan would see the largest positive GDP impact (2.3 per cent) but Australia, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea would also see growth of more than one per cent each.
- According to the report, improvements in human welfare would go well beyond gains in GDP thanks to a range of social and environmental benefits. The impact of renewable energy deployment on welfare is estimated to be three to four times larger than its impact on GDP, with global welfare increasing as much as 3.7 per cent.
- Employment in the renewable energy sector would also increase from 9.2 million global jobs today, to more than 24 million by 2030, the report said.
- A transition towards greater shares of renewables in the global energy mix would also cause a shift in trade patterns, as it would more than halve global imports of coal and reduce oil and gas imports, benefiting large importers like Japan, India, Korea and the European Union.
- Fossil fuel exporting countries would also benefit from a diversified economy. The report builds on previous IRENA analysis on the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy and on REmap 2030, a renewable energy roadmap to doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030.
Specifically, the report highlights the benefits that would be achieved under the scenario of doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030 from 2010 levels.
Environment & Ecology
Sikkim becomes the first fully organic state of India
Sikkim has become India’s first fully organic state by implementing organic practices on around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land.
- The announcement is made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a sustainable agriculture conference in Gangtok.
Around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land was gradually converted to certified organic land by implementing organic practices and principles as per guidelines laid down in National Programme for Organic Production.
- It was 12 years ago in 2003 when the Pawan Chamling-led government decided to make Sikkim an organic farming state through a declaration in the legislative assembly.
- Later the entry of chemical inputs for farmland was restricted and their sale banned. Farmers therefore had no option but to go organic.
Organic cultivation is free of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilisers as it tries to strike a harmonious balance with a complex series of ecosystems.
- Organic farming, in the long term, leads in subsistence of agriculture, bio-diversity conservation and environmental protection.
- Sustainable farming will also help in building the soil health resulting in sustainable increased crop production.
- Besides it will also boost the tourism industry in the tiny landlocked Himalayan state.Resorts have already been marketing themselves as completely organic where tourists can pluck, cook and relish fresh organic food from their kitchen gardens.
- Organic produce command a premium price in the market both inside the country and outside as it is becoming a craze among health and environment conscious people.
Agriculture in Sikkim:
- Bestowed with varied agro-climatic condition, some of the major crops in Sikkim include large cardamom, ginger, turmeric, off-season vegetables, flowers, Sikkim mandarin, kiwi, buck wheat, paddy maize and millets.
- As Sikkimese farmers were never dependent heavily on chemicals, the yield per hectare has not been affected by organic farming.
- There was only limited use of chemical fertilisers prior to 2003 (the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides was only about 8-12 kg per hectare) and the crop cultivation depended on low external inputs.
- Farmers were traditionally familiar in production and use of farm yard manure and compost. In general, there was no set back in productivity.
- To ensure availability of organic manures and pesticides, the government trained farmers on producing it.
A number of other states in India like Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala are now trying to become organic.
[Ref: Hindu, Live Mint]