There is no reason to reduce the excise duty on petroleum products, which has already been done twice when crude prices were at their peak, Revenue Secretary Sanjay Malhotra told NDTV. “Crude prices have come down and there is no suggestion of further reduction,” he said.
He said that no specific written instructions have been received from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology regarding taxation of online gaming.
“This is a well-considered decision by GST and we have taken it after a lot of discussions. We have also spoken and met with the online gaming industry,” Malhotra said on the Goods and Services Tax Council’s announcement of 28 per cent tax on online games involving real money.
There is a lack of communication. We do not tax recreational games. “Where there is no cash, the tax will remain at 18 per cent,” he clarified.
Online gaming players have expressed disappointment over the Goods and Services Tax Council’s decision. The government may ask the GST Council to consider the facts of the new regulatory framework for the industry, Union Minister Rajiv Chandrasekhar revealed last week that it took three years for the council to reach a decision on online gaming.
Imposing a 28 percent GST on gross gaming revenue (GGR), or platform fee, would increase taxes on the industry by nearly 1,000 percent and cause irreversible damage to the US$2.5 billion investment in the Indian online gaming startup ecosystem, gamers said.
Malhotra said the GST Council would take into account the concerns of gamers and clarified that the 28 per cent tax would not be on GGR but on “face value”. Sanjay Malhotra said the council will soon decide whether the tax should be at the entry level or on all betting pools.
Malhotra also put an end to speculations on whether he would extend the deadline for filing income tax returns like every year.
“There will be no extension. We are doing better than last year and I don’t see any reason to delay or extend and request everyone to file tax returns,” he said.
Regular purchases abroad like OTT subscription and news subscription are not covered under the Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS). He said that only remittances for purposes like investments, education, tourism and medical expenses are covered under LRS and only the amount spent above Rs 7 lakh is taxed.
Aimed at facilitating seamless foreign exchange, LRS is a scheme that enables Indian residents to send money abroad for certain specific purposes. Remittances above $2.5 lakh or its equivalent in foreign currency require Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approval, the earlier limit was $25,000. Earlier, the use of international credit cards (ICC) for payments to meet expenses during travel outside India was not covered under LRS, but this too has changed as the government suspected tax evasion.
The Union Budget 2023-24 has increased the TCS (Tax Deduction at Source) rates for foreign tour packages and funds remitted under LRS (except for educational and medical purposes) to 20% from the current 5%. The new tax rates came into effect from July 1, 2023.
This mostly affects people who make large deposits using credit cards and buy very expensive gifts abroad.
“Because there was a flight,” he said, “we taxed foreign money at source at 20 percent and credit card international spending at 20 percent.”
“Tax relief is good and we will achieve our targets even if economic growth is slow,” the revenue secretary said.