In a bid to uplift the slowing economy in India, and provide relief to certain sectors that are grappling with losses, the Government of India has brought in the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2019 to make certain amendments in the Income-Tax Act 1961 and the Finance (No. 2) Act 2019. GoI announced a reduction in corporate tax to 22% for existing companies and 15% for new manufacturing companies.
The announcement was made by Nirmala Sitaraman, Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, in Goa today. Along with Sitaraman, MoS Finance Anurag Thakur, Finance Commission Chairman N K Singh, CM of Goa, Finance Ministers of States and the UTs attended the 37th GST Council Meet.
As soon as the announcements were made, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted saying “The announcements in the last few weeks clearly demonstrate that our government is leaving no stone unturned to make India a better place to do business, improve opportunities for all sections of society and increase prosperity to make India a $5 Trillion economy.”
Some of the major highlights and announcements of the conference, according to a PIB press release, are as follows:
- In order to promote growth and investment, a new provision has been inserted in the Income-tax Act with effect from FY 2019-20 which allows any domestic company an option to pay income-tax at the rate of 22% subject to the condition that they will not avail any exemption/incentive. The effective tax rate for these companies shall be 25.17% inclusive of surcharge and cess. Also, such companies shall not be required to pay Minimum Alternate Tax.
- In order to attract fresh investment in manufacturing and thereby provide boost to ‘Make-in-India’ initiative of the Government, another new provision has been inserted in the Income-tax Act with effect from FY 2019-20 which allows any new domestic company incorporated on or after 1st October 2019 making fresh investment in manufacturing, an option to pay income-tax at the rate of 15%. This benefit is available to companies that do not avail of any exemption/incentive and commences their production on or before 31 March 2023. The effective tax rate for these companies shall be 17.01% inclusive of surcharge & cess. Also, such companies shall not be required to pay Minimum Alternate Tax.
- A company that does not opt for the concessional tax regime and avails the tax exemption/incentive shall continue to pay tax at the pre-amended rate. However, these companies can opt for the concessional tax regime after the expiry of their tax holiday/exemption period. After the exercise of the option, they shall be liable to pay tax at the rate of 22% and option once exercised cannot be subsequently withdrawn. Further, in order to provide relief to companies that continue to avail exemptions/incentives, the rate of Minimum Alternate Tax has been reduced from existing 18.5% to 15%.
- In order to stabilise the flow of funds into the capital market, it is provided that enhanced surcharge introduced by the Finance (No.2) Act, 2019 shall not apply on capital gains arising on sale of equity share in a company or a unit of an equity oriented fund or a unit of a business trust liable for securities transaction tax, in the hands of an individual, HUF, AOP, BOI and AJP.
- The enhanced surcharge shall also not apply to capital gains arising on sale of any security including derivatives, in the hands of Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs).
- In order to provide relief to listed companies which have already made a public announcement of buy-back before 5th July 2019, it is provided that tax on buy-back of shares in case of such companies shall not be charged.
- The Government has also decided to expand the scope of CSR 2 percent spending. Now CSR 2% fund can be spent on incubators funded by Central or State Government or any agency or Public Sector Undertaking of Central or State Government, and, making contributions to public funded Universities, IITs, National Laboratories and Autonomous Bodies (established under the auspices of ICAR, ICMR, CSIR, DAE, DRDO, DST, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) engaged in conducting research in science, technology, engineering and medicine aimed at promoting SDGs.
The total revenue foregone for the reduction in corporate tax rate and other relief estimated at Rs. 1,45,000 crore. “he step to cut corporate tax is historic. It will give a great stimulus to Make in India, attract private investment from across the globe, improve competitiveness of our private sector, create more jobs and result in a win-win for 130 crore Indians,” says Prime Minister Modi.