Trends, Issues and Reforms in Tax Policy in India

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This article was written by Sanya Rastogi, a student of  National Law University, Odisha.


Economic indicators suggest that India is on the threshold of becoming one of the most consistently vibrant economies of the world. The transformation in the global economic environment in the last two decades has been accompanied by significant reforms in tax policies and system by various countries. India was no exception. India tax policy has witnessed a significant and comprehensive reforms since the early nineties when market based economic reforms were initiated. Guided by tax neutrality, broadening of tax base, rationalization of tax rates and a more effective tax administration and policy reforms India with no exception .This paper assesses the reforms in India’s tax policy .This paper further break downs the advancement of the tax framework in India in the recent year . The paper portrays and surveys the presentation of new types of immediate also circuitous taxes, their income and value suggestions and the victories accomplished in their usage. The paper reasons that after eight years long time of change enhancing the tax framework remains a real test in India. In this paper , an attempt has been made to encapsulated tax policy initiatives and ongoing reforms, financial regulatory framework and opportunities in  India.


There have been significant changes in expense frameworks of nations with a wide assortment of monetary frameworks and levels of improvement amid the most recent two decades. The inspiration for these changes has differed starting with one nation then onto the next and the push of changes has varied occasionally relying upon the improvement method also reasoning of the times. In numerous creating nations, the quick explanation behind assessment changes, has been the need to upgrade incomes to meet approaching financial emergencies. While the proportion of assessment income to GDP in India is low by worldwide principles, peripheral rates are high. Financial hypothesis recommends that high assessment rates may discourage business, venture, and development.[1] The observational confirmation is blended. Crosscountry concentrates on for the most part affirm the negative effect of a high taxation rate on monetary movement, yet their results are not vigorous. Firm-level proof and reenactment results are more convincing, supporting the see that high expense rates have an antagonistic impact on development and mutilate financing and speculation choices High duty rates might likewise help the development of the “shadow economy,” convey costs as far as inescapable duty receipts and lower benefit development.[2]

A standout amongst the most critical explanations behind late assessment changes in numerous creating also transitional economies has been to advance an assessment framework to meet the necessities of worldwide rivalry. The move from a dominatingly halfway arranged advancement method to market based asset portion has changed the  point of view of the part of the state being developed.[3] The move from an open segment based, substantial industry ruled, import substituting industrialization methodology to one of apportioning assets as indicated by business sector signals has required systemic changes in the assessment framework.[4] In a fare headed open economy, the expense framework ought not just raise the fundamental incomes to give the social and physical base yet additionally minimize bends. Consequently, the duty framework need to conform to the necessities of a market economy to guarantee worldwide intensity.[5]

To enhance the duty admission and reserve funds and venture rates, which are low by provincial standards an arrangement of duty changes have been considered in India. Their primary purpose is to join lower statutory rates with base increasing, to acknowledge more incomes while bringing down the minor taxation rate and evacuating contortions. This thus ought to encourage development, heading to an “expansionary” monetary change.[6]

As in different nations, the systemic changes in the expense framework in India in the 1990s were the result of emergency however the changes were adjusted on the premise of point by point dissection. The target of this paper is to investigate the development of the India charge framework with unique reference to the systemic changes in the outline and usage of the structure and operation of the assessments in Indian government commonwealth. In area, the advancement of assessment framework changes, elective standards utilized in change practices in diverse nations and the best practice methodologies to change are portrayed to give a skeleton to investigating the Indian expense change experience. Segment II portrays the Indian charge framework and the change activities embraced until the exhaustive expense change activity was taken up in 1991. The notable gimmicks of extensive assessment change since 1991 and its effect on incomes are broke down in segment III. The last segment brings out the significant inadequacies even now persevering in the assessment framework and records the difficulties confronted by the administration in creating a co-ordinated assessment framework in the Indian government country.[7]


The power to exact taxes in India is isolated between the central government and the state  governments. The central government exacts immediate taxes, for example, individual income tax (PIT) also corporate tax (CIT); backhanded taxes, for example, traditions and extract obligations and an administration tax; also a deals tax on between state transactions (CST). States demand a VAT on products, state deals taxes, and different nearby taxes. As in other creating nations, tax impetuses characteristic noticeably in India, with tax occasions being the favored type of motivators. Such motivators may be imperative for a few organizations to balance different expenses of doing business in India, for example, still generally high import obligations, prohibitive work laws, and insufficient open foundation yet a tragic conclusion has been to disperse the generally immediate and circuitous tax bases .Since 1991, the tax structure has been considerably defended. Changes at the central government level incorporate lessening traditions and extract obligations, bringing down CIT rates, broadening a manifestation of VAT to a few commercial enterprises, and widening the tax base to a few administration. At the state level, the fundamental change has been the presentation in 2005 of the VAT in 24 states and union regions, following ten years of postponement.[8]

Current tax policy focus in India:

The most recent phase of tax policy reforms in India witnessed the introduction of two significant legislations –the direct taxes code (DTC) Bill 2010 to replace the existing income tax Act and the constitutional (Amendment ) Bill to introduce the Goods  and Services Tax(GST). The twin reforms have the potential to transform the Indian tax system ,which could translate into a  substantial positive impact on the economic growth of  the country .[9] However, given the fundamental nature of reforms that both the legislations seek to introduce , the two Bills have been subjects of intense public debate for a longtime and are currently pending with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance for examination and comments.[10]

India’s Tax Reforms:

Some of the tax reforms in India are as follows:

Direct taxes:

Income tax: In 1973-74, there were 11 income tax pieces, running from 10 for every penny to 85 for every penny. Figuring in a 15 for every penny extra charge, those gaining over Rs 200,000 would pay a minimal tax rate of 97.5 for every penny; including riches tax, this would climb to 107 for every penny.[11] Subsequently, there were expansive disincentives to proclaim one’s genuine income and this helped make a deceptive society. Significant changes in 1985-86 lessened the quantity of tax rates from 8 to 4, and brought the peripheral tax rate down from 60 for every penny to 50 for every penny.[12] Further, the riches tax rates were lessened. Addi­tional changes occurred in 1991-92 and 1996-97 and today, there are only 3 tax rates, with a 10 for every penny sur­charge for those procuring above Rs 1 million for every annum. Still, such issues as the Incidental advantages Tax and certain exclusions, stay to be determined. [13]

Corporation tax: Until around a de­cade prior, there were a few distinctive rates for diverse sorts of organizations (e.g. nearly held and generally held) – going from 45 for every penny to 65 for every penny – and broad tax preferenc­es existed. Tax rates were steadily diminished to 40 for every penny, and further, to 35 for every penny in 1997-98. Besides, the refinement between generally held and nearly held organizations was dropped, and the rates brought together. De­spite these changes, in any case, there has been much over and over again on the profit tax, and the arrangement of Least Option Tax (MAT) keeps on being questionable. [14]

Indirect taxes:

Union extract obligations: The current extract tax framework is intricate, dis­cretionary and falling, with 24 rates and a mixof notice valorem and particular obligations. It is as of now hard to gauge successful rates. Administrations are taxed specifically. Going ahead, an unification of rates – through the CENVAT – will be a vital venture, as will the decrease or evacuation of exclusions, for example, to little scale commercial enterprises .[15]

Customs obligation: Until the mid-1980s, India had a high, separated and complex customs obligation structure, notwithstanding quantitative restric­tions on imports. Tax rates fluctuated as indicated by the phase of handling. Starting in 1985-86 and accelerat­ing in 1991-92, changes were placed set up, cutting down customs rates steeply. Top rates were lessened to 30 for every penny in 2002-03, 25 for every penny in 2003-04, 12.5 for every penny in 2005-06, and to 10 for every penny in 2007-08. A further improvement and bringing down of rates, then again, will need to be actualized in the nearin.[16]

The GST Guide

A standout amongst the most pressing regions for further change is the indirect tax framework. In particular, the present government has focused on imple­menting a national Merchandise and Administrations Tax (GST) by 2010. It remains an open question concerning whether this due date will be met, yet – once set up  the GST will be of tremendous centrality. This is evident even from India’s involvement with the state-level VAT  which, albeit still inadequate, has as of now had an unmistakable effect on the indirect tax framework. [17]

Going ahead, it ought to be remembered that India’s tax ‘task framework’ will remain the center of tax policymaking and is key to the eventual fate of the GST. The seventh Timetable of the Constitution divides the ability to tax between the Middle and the states and, wherever conceivable, keeps away from simultaneous taxes.[18] This standard of partition infers that the Core’s taxes are not to be given to the State, and the other way around. For example, while extract is gathered by the Focal point, deals tax is gathered by the states. Also, taxes on farming incomes must be forced by the States and those on non-rural incomes must be gathered by the Inside.[19] On the other hand, given that the tax bases are inter­dependent, this makes various escape clauses, and leaves abundant space for tax shirking and avoidance. For the GST to be effectively actualized, there is accordingly a requirement for it to be a simultaneous, yet blended, framework as in such nations.[20]


In an undeniably open economy, for example, India’s, there is a need to fo­cus on the productivity part of the tax framework like never before some time recently. This implies minimizing three separate expenses: the expense of gathering taxes; the consistence expenses to taxpayers; and the mutilation expenses to the economy on the loose. One such twisting, for India’s situation, is an intemperate dependence on tax incomes from the generally State-con­trolled) petroleum segment – which has a falling effect on different regions of the economy. Given that contortions have a tendency to increment with higher negligible tax rates, a less complex framework with lower tax rates is alluring. [21]

At long last, three extra focuses must be remembered while track­ing the advancement of tax changes in India. In the first place, lawful changes are generally as imperative as tax changes in driving changes around there. Second, as the knowledge of VAT shows, it is basic to have composed changes, crosswise over States, particularly in the region of indirect taxation. Third, it will oblige incredible political will to guarantee that the current, optional strategy and ad­ministrative structure is not further propagated.[22]

All minor taxes and levies whether at central or state level or of municipal bodies must be abolished because these authorities may be spending more money on collection or recovery than the revenues .All minor taxes and levies whether at central or state level or of municipal bodies must be abolished because these authorities may be spending more money on collection or recovery than the revenues.

[1] Bagchi, A, 1994. “India’s tax reform: a progress report”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. XXIX, 22 October, pp. 2809-2815


[3] Administrative dimension of tax reform in developing countries”, in Malcolm Gillis, ed., Tax Reform in Developing Countries (London, Duke University Press).

[4] Kähkönen, S., & Lanyi, A. (2000). Institutions, incentives, and economic reforms in India. New Delhi: Sage.

[5] Direct Tax Reforms in India: A Comparative Study of Pre and Post-Liberalization Periods Om Parkash, A S Sidhu 2011

[6] Reform of Domestic Trade Taxes in India: Issues and Options, Report of the Study Team (Chairman: Dr Amaresh Bagchi)

[7] Tax system and tax reforms in India Luigi Bernardi, Angela Fraschini 2005

[8] Ministry of Finance, 2006, Report of the Taskforce on Implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (New Delhi: Government of India).

[9] Indian Tax Foundation. (2001). Tax reforms in India: 1991-2001. Delhi: The Foundation

[10] Is the Value Added Tax Reform in India Poverty-Improving? An Analysis of Data from Two Major States Ajitava Raychaudhuri, Sudip Kumar Sinha, Poulomi Roy 2007

[11] All India Commerce Conference, & Chaudhari, P. T. (2003). Tax reforms in India. Jaipur, India: Shree Niwas Publications. 

[12] COMPOSITE AREA LINKED SYSTEM FOR PROPERTY TAX REFORM IN INDIA R. M. Kapoor, P. K. Ghosh Journal: Review of Urban & Regional Development Studies 1992

[13] “Tax reform in India”, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. XXVIII, 11 December, pp. 2721-2726.

[14] Kraemer, Moritz, and Eileen Zhang, 2004, “Flexibility in Taxing Times—A New Index of Governments’ Revenue-Raising Potential” (London: Standard & Poor’s).

[15] Rao, S. Narayan, and Jijo Lukose, 2002, “An Empirical Study on the Determinants of the Capital Structure of Listed Indian Firms,” (unpublished; Mumbai: Indian Institute of Technology).

[16] Dasgupta, Arindam and Dilip Mookherjee, 2008. Incentives and Institutional Reform in Tax Enforcement (Oxford University Press).

[17] N.I.U.A. (Organization : India). (2010). Best practices on property tax reforms in India. New Delhi: National Institute of Urban Affairs.

[18] Topalova, Petia, 2004, “Overview of the Indian Corporate Sector: 1989–2002,” IMF Working Paper No. 04/64 (Washington: International Monetary Fund).

[19] All India Commerce Conference, & Chaudhari, P. T. (2003). Tax reforms in India. Jaipur, India: Shree Niwas Publications. 


[21] Shome, Partha, 2004, “India: Resource Mobilization through Taxation,” (unpublished; Washington: International Monetary Fund).

[22] Nicodeme, G., 2002, “Sector and Size Effects on Effective Corporate Taxation,” Economic Papers No. 175 (Brussels: European Commission).

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