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The Hon’ble Finance Minister, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, presented her second Union Budget for the Fiscal Year 2020-21. The Union Budget has been split into three major themes viz. Aspirational India, Economic Development and a Caring Society. The Key Highlights have been summarized in ensuing paragraphs.
Overall, the budget has met various pre-budget expectations of the industry as far as the abolistion of DDT, relief in individual Income tax rates, Amnesty Schemes under Income tax etc. are concerned. However, the proposed divestments in the insurance sector and implications of other Direct Tax amendments have to be analyzed to term the instant budget as pro assessee or otherwise.
The GLS Budget booklet with a detailed analysis of the amendments would follow in couple of hours.
CBIC vide their tweet dated 31 January 2020 extends the due date for filing Annual Return and Reconciliation Statement for the F.Y. 2017-18 in staggered manner as follows. Notification / Order to this effect will follow soon.
Due date for states under Group 1: Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Other Territory - 3rd February 2020;
Due date for states under Group 2: Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat- 5th February 2020; and
Due date for states under Group 3: Bihar, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam, West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh- 7th February 2020.
In a landmark judgment by the Hon'ble Gujarat HC in the case of Mohit Minerals Private Limited vs. Union of India, the notifications levying IGST on ocean freight have been struck down owing to the lack of legislative competency. The decision inter alia holds that the importer cannot be said to be the recipient of services where the entire transaction takes place outside the territorial jurisdiction of India.
Under the Service Tax regime, the Hon'ble Gujarat HC in the case of Sal Steel Limited had struck down similar notifications which levied Service Tax on ocean freight. The rationale for the said judgment was similar to the present ruling that the levy of Service Tax on ocean freight for import of goods is ultra vires to the provisions of the Finance Act in as much as the transactions are being carried out beyond the territories of India.
In light of the present judgment, it would be interesting to see whether the Government would be made liable to refund the IGST paid on ocean freight by importers. Moreover, it would be interesting to see the fate of Input Tax Credit already collected by importers who had abided by the now 'struck down notifications'.
Acknowledging the difficulties faced by trade and industry in filing of returns, the government has decided to introduce several measures to ease the process, by allowing filing of GSTR-3B in staggered manner as follows. The Finance Ministry further said that it has also taken a note of difficulties and concerns expressed by the taxpayers regarding filing of GSTR-3B and other returns. The matter has been discussed by the GSTN with Infosys, the Managed Service Provider, which has come out with above solution to destress the process as a temporary but immediate measure.
The key highlights of the Press Release are as follows:
List of 15 states having deadline as 22nd of subsequent month
List of 22 states having deadline as 22nd of subsequent month
For further improving the performance of GSTN filing portal on permanent basis, several technological measures are being worked out with Infosys and will be in place by April 2020.
BIS Hallmarking for Jewelry Industry
The Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution had held a press conference on 14 January 2020, to discuss matters relating to hall marking of Gold jewelry and Artefacts. Some of the key points are mentioned below:
BIS Requirement for Renewable Energy
Acting upon the decisions of the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways taken in the 6th National Standards Conclave on the subject of Standards for Trade Facilitation held in New Delhi on 15 and 16 January 2020, the DGFT issued a Trade Notice to that effect
Trade Notice No. 46/2019-20 dated 17 January 2020
It has been clarified that all importers should file their Bills of Entry under specific ITC (HS) Codes at 8-digit level, wherever possible and to avoid ‘others’ category. It has also been clarified that in case of continued non-compliance and mis-classification, the Government may consider bringing a licensing regime for all items imported under the ‘others’ category by shifting these items from ‘free’ to ‘restricted’ category.
It has been further advised to the members of the Trade and Industry are of the view that existing HS Code are not sufficient to cover the imported goods, they shall immediately suggest appropriate 8 digit HS Code to the competent authorities.
Standardization of products and processes is a touchstone today for the globalized world. It indicates the existence of accepted product standards and a claim that the manufactured products and its underlying processes adhere to the prescribed standards. International Standards Organization (“ISO”), with a membership of 162 countries, publishes guidelines which form the backbone for standards issued by national standards bodies in their respective domestic jurisdictions.
With the world witnessing ever increasing non-tariff barriers to trade and with the phenomenal pace with which technology is advancing, need for standardization of products is important today more than ever to maintain competitiveness in an international marketplace. Consequently, the role of national standards bodies has become all the more vital. In view of the intensity of the current regulated business environment, it is of paramount importance for businesses to gain a comprehensive knowledge of relevant Indian regulations mandating compliances including the BIS Certification.
The BIS has recently increased the fold of mandatory certification to include a number of categories under its ambit.
CBIC vide Notification No. 05/2020 – Central Tax dated 13 January 2020 notifies the appointment of Revisional Authorities under the CGST Act, 2017 as follows:
Circular No. 02/2020 – Customs dated 10 January 2020
CBIC vide Notification No. 04/2020 - Central Tax dated 10 January 2020 extends the amnesty scheme for late fee waiver of GSTR-1 for the period July 2017 to November 2019 upto 17 January 2020
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