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Key Highlights of the Finance Bill 2023

Key Highlights of the Finance Bill 2023

The Union Budget was presented on 01.02. 2023 by Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, wherein she proposed various amendments to the Finance Bill 2023. The key highlights of the same shall be discussed in the present article.

Changes Proposed in the Tax Rates 

The changes proposed in the tax rates as per the Finance Bill 2023 are discussed below-

  • The most significant change being proposed in the Finance Bill 2023 is with regard to the revision of the maximum exemption limit and the no. of slabs in the alternate tax regime of Sec – 115BAC, wherein the revised basic exemption limit shall be INR 3,00,000. For every additional Rs 3 lakh of income, the subsequent slab rate shall apply. The highest slab rate of 30%  would continue to be applicable to income above INR 15,00,000
  • A  proposal for increasing the threshold limit for total income eligible for rebate u/s  87A from INR 5 lakh to INR 7 lakh for assessees who opt for the new tax regime is also made.
  • Reduced the highest surcharge from 37 to 25% on income above  Rs 5 Cr. under the new tax regime[1]
  • It has been proposed that the alternate tax regime of Section 115BAC be applicable to the AOP [(other than a co-operative society], BOI, and AJP.
  • Standard deduction from income from salary and deduction from the family pension is to be extended to employees opting for New Tax Regime.
  • The new tax regime u/s 115BAC is proposed to be the default regime.
  • Proposal for the insertion of a new section 115BAE which deals with a reduced rate of tax of 15% (plus a surcharge of 10% & cess) for Manufacturing co-operative societies formulated on or subsequent to 01.04.23 and commencing production on or prior to 31..03. 24 only if the specified incentives or deductions aren’t availed]. Further, income not derived or incidental to the manufacturing or production of things or article would be taxed  @ 22%.
  •  Insertion of Section 115BBJ is proposed that provides the tax  on any winning from online gaming@  30%
  • Alternate Minimum Tax (AMT) provisions and credit of the same won’t be applicable to cooperative societies that opt for an alternate tax regime u/s 115BAE.

Amendments proposed with regard to Deductions and Exemptions

The Finance Bill 2023 proposed certain amendments regarding the deductions and exemptions such as –

  • Receipts that have arisen from life insurance policies issued on or subsequent to  01.04. 23 shall be considered as income from other sources provided the premium paid exceeds Rs. 5 Lakh in a given year. The exemption for receipts in case of the death of the insured person shall remain unchanged.
  • For availing the deduction u/s 10AA, the assessee shall be required to submit an ITR on or prior to the due date specified u/s 139(1).
  • Deduction u/s 10AA shall only be permitted if the receipt of proceeds from the sale of goods or provision of services is within six months from the end of the PY or within such further period as permitted by the competent authority on this behalf.
  • Exemption of tax on Income distributed from offshore derivative instruments (ODI)  with an offshore banking unit of an IFSC u/s 10(4E).
  •  The Finance Bill 2023  also proposes  for the withdrawal of the exemption u/s 10(22B) for news agencies
  • Extension of the Tax exemption u/s 10(46A) to ‘Non-corporate entities (Such as bodies, authorities, boards, trusts, or commissions), established by a Cent.  or State Act in order to provide housing, planning urban development, and regulating activities for public benefit.

Proposed Tax Benefits to Agniveers

The Finance Bill 2023 has also proposed certain tax benefits for the Agniveer, as discussed hereinunder.

  • Tax exemption on the Receipts from the ‘Agniveer Corpus Fund’ by a person enrolled with the ‘Agnipath Scheme 2022’  u/s 10(12C).
  • Proposal of a  new deduction u/s  80CCH, providing for deductions to individuals enrolled in the Agnipath Scheme on or subsequent to 01.11.22. The deduction shall be equal to the number of contributions made to the ACF. This deduction is available in old and new tax regimes.
  • The Central Govt. Contribution to the account of Agniveer Corpus Fund of an individual enrolled in the scheme mentioned above shall be considered as salary as per the provisions of Section 17. A corresponding deduction shall be allowed u/s 80CCH for the same.
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Amendment Proposed Regarding Income from Business or Profession

The following Amendments are proposed regarding the income from Business or Profession as per the Finance Bill 2023 –

  • As per Sec 43B, deductions for sums payable to (MSMEs) are proposed to be allowed on a payment basis.
  • For sugar co-operatives societies, it has been proposed that if there has been a disallowance of any deduction claimed for expenditure made on the purchase of sugar for years prior to A.Y. 2016-17, an application may be made to the AO, who shall be recomputing the income of the relevant PYs after permitting such deduction up to the price approved  or fixed  by the Govt.  for such PY.
  • The NBFCs proposed to be notified for the purposes of Sections 43B and 43D.
  • A proposal to provide clarification that the benefit could also be in cash for taxability u/s 28 of the Act and for TDS u/s 194R of the Act.
  • Restrictions are proposed for the set off of losses and unabsorbed depreciation by the assessees opting for presumptive tax schemes u/s  44BB and 44BBB.
  • Increase in the threshold limits for presumptive taxation schemes u/s 44AD and Section 44ADA  to  Rs.  3 Cr. and Rs 75 lakhs, respectively if a minimum of 95% of receipts and payments are made through non-cash methods. The consequential amendments have been made u/s 44AB for tax audit requirements for persons opting for such presumptive schemes.
  • Another proposal is with regard to the removal of the condition of activity regarding these expenses to be carried out by a concern  as approved by the Board u/s 35D. Instead, the assessee should furnish a statement consisting of the particulars of this expenditure within the prescribed period to the relevant income-tax authority in the prescribed form and manner.

Amendments regarding Capital Gains

The proposed amendments regarding the capital gains as per the Finance Bill 2023 are enumerated below-

  • Transforming the  physical gold into Electronic Gold Receipts and vice versa by the Vault Manager registered with SEBI won’t be considered a transfer for the taxation of  capital gains
  • The cost of any intangible assets and rights would be considered nil in case of non-payment of consideration for acquisition.
  • The gains obtained from the transfer maturity or redemption of Market Linked Debentures will be taxed at the applicable rate as STCG u/s 50AA.
  • An individual or HUF can claim the highest  exemption of Rs. 10 crs  u/s 54 and 54F
  • The transfer of capital assets in respect of the relocation of an offshore fund to an IFSC won’t attract any tax. The deadline for such relocation has been extended to 31-03-2025.
  • For the purpose of aligning with the provisions of the Joint Development Agreement with the TDS provisions u/s 194-IC,  An amendment is proposed in section 45  for providing that the full value of consideration will be taken as the property’s stamp duty value received as increased by receipt consideration received in cash draft, cheque or by any other mode.

Amendments Regarding Charitable & Religious Trusts

 The Finance Bill 2023 proposed the following in this regard

  • Trusts and institutions that have commenced their activities are required to apply for regular registration directly rather than provisional registration.
  • If the applicant submits a registration application which contains false, inaccurate, or incomplete information, it shall be termed a designated violation resulting in the registration of trusts or institutions being revoked by the PCIT / CIT.
  • The laws for tax on accreted income, as specified in Sec-  115TD, have been extended to trusts or institutions in the event of their failure to apply for re-registration.
  • For the purpose of claiming the accumulation of income, institutions must file Form 9A and Form 10 a minimum of 2 months before the deadline for filing the ITR.
  • Time provided for furnishing  ITR for claiming exemption by trusts or institutions u/s  10(23C) or Section 11 or 12 won’t include the time provided for furnishing an updated return. In other words, the exemption will be permitted if the ITR  is furnished within the time allowed u/s  139(1) or Section 139(4) and not Section 139(8A).
  • The 2nd, 3rd and 4th proviso to Section 12A(2) permit trusts and institutions for claiming an exemption u/s 11 and 12 for the PY  wherein the registration application is made despite the registration being granted in the following year. However,  as per the new registration rules provided by the Finance Bill 2023, provisional registration should be applied prior to the commencement of the activities. Thereby removing the rollback provisions.
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Proposed Amendments with regard to Assessment and Appeals

The proposed amendments regarding the Assessment and Appeals as per the Finance Bill 2023 are 

  • Filling of appeal by the assessee against penalty orders imposed by the Commissioner (Appeals) u/s 271AAB, 271AAC, &  271AAD and revision orders passed by the PCC or Chief Commissioner under Section 263 along with allowing the filing of the memorandum of cross-objections in all cases that can be appealed to the Appellate Tribunal.
  • Proposal of amending Section 132 with the purpose of allowing the authorized officer to get assistance from approved professionals, like digital forensic experts and regd. Valuers, during the process
  • of  search and seizure
  • Introduction of a new appellate authority of the Joint Commissioner (Appeal) for selected categories of  taxpayers , such as individuals and HUFs, for  expediting  resolution in appeal proceedings.
  • Extension of the time provided with the “Interim Board for Settlement” for disposing of the pending rectification applications for providing sufficient opportunity.
  • An enabling provision is proposed for directing a cost audit for the valuation of inventory even before an AO initiates an assessment.
  • Increase in the time available for completion of the assessment from 9 months to 12 months w.e.f AY  2022-23.
  • Extension of the deadline for completion of assessment or reassessment in search cases due to its pendency by a period of  12 months for the taxpayer for whom the search was commenced or the requisition was done and the assessee to whom any seized or requisitioned bullion, money,  jewellery, or other valuable items belongs or to whom any seized or requisitioned documents or books of account pertain or contain relevent information.

Amendments with regard to Set-off and Carry Forward of Losses

 The Finance Bill 2023 has also proposed certain amendments regarding Setoff and Carry Forward of Losses, as discussed below-

  • Amendment of the definition of ‘strategic disinvestment’ in Section 72A  for providing that it shall mean the sale of shareholding by the Central or State Govts, by a public sector Co. in another public sector Co or a company resulting in the reduction of its shareholding below 51%, and transfer of control to the buyer.
  • Amendment to Section 72AA  for allowing the c/d  of accumulated losses and unabsorbed depreciation in case of the merger of a banking company with another banking company within 5 yrs of the strategic disinvestment.
  •  The eligible start-ups can set off and carry forward the losses incurred during the 7 yrs of incorporation even in the case of a change in shareholding if 100% of shareholders continue during the relevant period. There has been an increase in the time limit from 7 yrs is increased to 10 yrs.
  • The threshold limit for TDS u/s  194N is increased from Rs. 1 cr. to Rs. 3 crore, where the recipient is a cooperative society.
  •  Increase the rate of TCS on overseas tour packages and select other cases from 5% to 20% without any threshold benefit.
  •  Removal of the Exemption from TDS on payment of interest on listed debentures to an Indian  resident
  • The rate of TDS on EPF withdrawal would be 20%  rather than the maximum marginal rate if the recipient doesn’t furnish his PAN.
  • The TDS shall be deducted @   20% or the rate provided in a tax treaty for some income paid to NR  or foreign companies. The relief will be provided only if the payee provides a tax residency certificate.
  • Introduction of a new provision for resolving the mismatch of TDS  and allowing the assessee for claiming  TDS credit in the relevant AY. This can be done by applying to the AO within two yrs of TDS.
  • Sections 206AB  & 206CCA require higher TDS/TCS for those specified persons that haven’t filed their ITR and have a TDS/TCS aggregate of a minimum of  50,000 in the PY. An amendment is proposed to exclude the persons who aren’t required to file ITR  and are notified by the Govt from being considered as specified persons.
  • Payments made under the JDA agreements through a cheque, draft, or another electronic mode shall be covered under the TDS net of Sec- 194-IC.
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Penalties

The amendments in respect of penalties according to the Finance Bill 2023 are  

  • A penalty of Rs. 5,000 is to be imposed on financial institutions providing  SFTs for inaccuracies due to false information submitted by account holders,  the penalty for which shall be recovered by the institution may be from the account holder.
  • Penalty u./s 271C and prosecution u/s 276B are to be launched in the event of failure to deduct tax u/s 194R or Sec-  194S on the benefits passed in kind.

Other Proposals

Some of the other proposals in the  Finance Bill 2023  are

  • Prescription of a uniform method for the valuation of rent-free or concessional accommodation given by an employer to an employee by the central Govt. will prescribe
  • Distributions by the business trust to their unit holders, reflected as debt repayment, are made taxable in the hands of unit holders.
  •  Adjustment of an income tax refund against any sum payable under the Income-tax only upon providing a written intimation. Further, in case of assessment/reassessment, written reasons are needed for withholding the refund. However, additional interest on such a refund isn’t payable from the date refund is withheld till the date of assessment is done.
  • The  PACS and  PCARD are permitted to accept deposits or grant loans to their members by way of cash up to Rs. 2 lakhs. This increased limit also applies to the repayment of such deposits or loans.
  • Thin-capitalisation provisions u/s  94B shall not apply to notified NBFCs
  • Upon the filing of an updated ITR, the interest will be computed based  on the difference b/w  the assessed tax &  the advance tax claimed in the earlier ITR
  •  Double deductions by the claim of  interest on house property u/s 24 and considering the same as a part of the acquisition cost is removed 
  •  Proposal for amending Section 80-IAC to extend eligible start-ups’ incorporation period by another year. Start-ups incorporated prior to 01-04-2024 shall be eligible for deduction.
  • Amendment to Section 92D  for reducing the time frame for submission of the information or documents in connection with the international or specified domestic tax transactions proceedings from 30 days to 10 days,  along with an option of extension by another 30 days.

Conclusion

The proposed changes in Finance Bill 2023 can lead to a better taxation system in the country by providing the required relief to the assessees, streaming the filing and grievance redressal process and better tax management.

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Read our Article: Union Budget 2023: An Overview

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