R V Easwar, who heads a committee to review the Income Tax Act formed on Tuesday, says he would consult committee members to see if retrospective changes to the Act could be assessed under terms of reference (ToR) given. He tells Indivjal Dhasmana the panel will assess if it would review the General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR). He says first simple procedures and exemptions that affect the common man would be there in the report to be submitted by January 31 and later substantial provisions would be commented on. Edited excerpts:
Will the panel review retrospective amendments to the I-T Act?
I am not sure under which terms of reference it would come. It may come up in that terms of reference which asked the committee to suggest alternatives and modifications to the existing provisions and areas to bring about predictability and certainty in tax laws. But, it has a caveat that the recommendation should not substantially impact the tax base and revenue collection. I will consult committee members to firm up the view.
Will the panel assess GAAR, even though it has been deferred by two years?
It may come under ToR on identifying provisions, which are impacting the ease of doing business. We will assess that possibility.
The finance ministry has asked the panel to submit its first report by January 31. Will you be able to substantially complete the report?
I am a bit doubtful. There are substantial provisions in the law and simple procedures relating to charge, etc.
The simple part would be done first. And then, exemptions – not to large corporates, but that affect the common man – could be done first.
The ministry has given freedom to the committee to form sub-groups. Will you opt for that?
Of course, as and when the need arises. There are 10 members, each expert in his own field.
It makes sense to form sub-groups.
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