Task force on direct tax laws gets two more months to submit report

The new code will replace the decade-old I-T Act
The deadline for the direct tax code task force to submit its report has been extended by two months to July 31, according to a government official. This decision was taken by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley when he met officials of the ministry, including Revenue Secretary A B Pandey and Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman P C Mody.

The task force under Akhilesh Ranjan, a CBDT member, was earlier given a three-month extension till May 31. The panel has sought another two months which the finance minister approved on Friday. The new direct tax code would replace the decade-old Income Tax (I-T) Act.

The finance ministry had appointed the second task force under Ranjan after there were disagreements among members of an earlier panel headed by Arvin Modi, the then CBDT member. While extending the deadline for the panel earlier, the finance ministry had asked it to revise the existing I-T slabs, especially in the 20 per cent bracket.

Under the current I-T slabs, income up to Rs 2.5 lakh is exempt from tax, those earning up to Rs 5 lakh pay 5 per cent, and those earnings up to Rs 10 lakh have to pay 20 per cent. Those with income above Rs 10 lakh have to pay 30 per cent tax.

From April 1, those with income of up to Rs 5 lakh will not have to pay tax, as they have been given tax credits in the interim Budget on February 1. If various investment schemes are also factored in, those with income up to Rs 10 lakh may also escape the tax net in the next financial year.

Earlier, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had made an attempt to reform the age-old taxation system by introducing the direct tax code. The code aimed at consolidating and integrating all direct tax laws by replacing the I-T Act, 1961, and the Wealth Tax Act, 1957 while rationalising exemptions.

The old direct tax code Bill had proposed an annual I-T exemption limit of Rs 2 lakh, and levying 10 per cent tax on income between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, 20 per cent on Rs 5-10 lakh, and 30 per cent for incomes above Rs 10 lakh. 

The Bill for the proposed tax code was introduced in 2010. It was then referred to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance. After the parliamentary panel’s recommendation, the UPA government, at the fag-end of its tenure, had put the revised draft on public domain in March 2014.

The BJP government, too, believes that the current I-T Act, which was drafted almost 60 years ago, needs an overhaul, but at the same time it should be in sync with the economic circumstances of the country.

In 2014, the Modi government had presented the Budget on July 10. But this year, it is to be seen whether the full Budget is presented before the task force submits its report.

Overhauling the decade-old I-T Act
  • Finance minister Arun Jaitley took the decision on Friday
  • The task force earlier got a three-month extension till May 31 
  • The new code will replace the decade-old I-T Act
  • The BJP govt thinks the new code should be in sync with the economic circumstances of the country

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