March 9, 2016 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Royal Bombay Yacht Club
Gateway Of India Mumbai
Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001

On 9th March 2016, V Citizens Actions Network organised the first TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchar of 2016 at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club. The topic for the session was ‘The Union Budget and its Tax Related Implications on the Common Man and the Social Sector’.

The speakers for the session were Shri H.C. Jain, Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (X &XI), Mumbai, and Shri Vimal Punmiya, CA, a noted Chartered Accountant and Tax Expert.

This edition of TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchar was also notable for being our first ‘Ashoka Fellows Connect’, a unique joint-initiative with the Ashoka Organisation, a global network which recognises and supports Social Entrepreneurs who are changing the world around them for the better in countries all over the globe. Ashoka Fellows and the Members of the Ashoka Team from all over India congregated at Hubs in Chennai, Bangalore, and Mumbai, to interact with the speakers and the public, and share their views and unique insights on the topic as well.

The session started with a Welcome Address by VCAN Managing Trustee Mrs. Indrani Malkani, who is also an Ashoka Fellow, wherein she introduced V Citizens Actions Network as well as the Ashoka Organisation, and spoke about our previous Social Sanchars.

VCAN Trustee Mr. V. Ranganathan then introduced the speakers and the topic at hand.

Shri Punmiya began his remarks by saying that the recent budget was one of the best that he had seen, which covered many important areas such as Make in India and had simplified many procedures relating to filing and payment of Taxes and moreover, no retrospective amendments have been introduced. He made a particular note of the Government’s efforts to reduce litigation and bring Black Money back into circulation. He went on to list out some of the new tax benefits and deductions proposed this year.

Shri Jain pointed out how various measures had been taken to simplify the procedure that the Tax Payers had to follow. He stressed that the Tax Department wanted to work with the Tax Payers and not against them. He discussed the steps that they had taken to prevent delays in refunds including the fixing of responsibility on the IT Officers, as well as the raising of interest rates on delayed refunds. He concluded his remarks by noting the Budget’s focus on voluntary compliance, ease of the assesse, and accountability of the Tax Department to the people at large.

The floor was then opened to questions from the audience, both those at the venue and those online, as well as the Ashoka Fellows joining in from the Hubs.

In response to a question on the expectations of the Tax Department from the citizens, Shri Jain pointed out how they wanted citizens to ensure compliance and pay their taxes regularly and on time.

In response to a question from Ramesh Kumar, Ashoka Fellow from Chennai on the impact of a lower budgeted capital outlay on growth, Shri Jain pointed out that there had been a move away from the distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure, and there was a tremendous focus on infrastructure and development, as well as more disbursement to the States.

Another question from an Ashoka Team Member in Bangalore concerned the reduction in allocations in areas like Women and Child Development due to increased disbursement to the States as well as how Social Entrepreneurs could access these funds. The speakers replied that a large number of programmes focused on the poor and rural areas also included Women and Children in their ambit. They also mentioned the different tax exemptions and benefits available to Entrepreneurs carrying out socially beneficial activities. Mr. Ranganathan posed a question on the trend of non-utilisation of budgets, which was replied to by pointing out the fact that timelines and deadlines for utilisation had been incorporated into the budget as well.

An audience member raised the issue of employees being harassed over TDS which had been claimed by their employers but not paid to the Tax Department, citing the example of Kingfisher. It was replied to by Shri. Punmiya who said that while a notice may have been sent, however the action would be taken against the employer and not the employee.

A question was asked about why Agriculture income was exempted from tax, Shri. Jain responded that it was a question better asked to a policy maker rather than a tax official.

Shri. Jain also noted that the current budget maintained continuity with previous budgets, but featured a heavy focus on Rural India, as well as on simplification of tax procedures.

To a question asked by Mrs. Malkani on the tax liability of Non Profit Organisations turning into a For Profit Organization, Shri. Punmiya replied that the provisions of the Budget provided that if a Charitable Organisation moved away from Charitable work towards profit making, it would have to pay taxes on all the assets it had accrued during its Charitable activities. This ensured that Charitable Organisations would continue doing charitable work.

The video of the session is linked with this report, to enable access to greater details to the proceedings.

After the Q&A Session was concluded, mementos were presented to the Speakers by Trustees of VCAN. The All India Business Council, a Networking Partner of VCAN, also felicitated the Speakers.

Those who could not raise their questions or whose questions could not be answered were informed that their questions were given to the speakers and would be replied to via email.

The event concluded with the Trustees of VCAN, the audience, Speakers, The Ashoka Team and Ashoka Fellows in various hubs taking the ‘Jal Daan’ Pledge, an initiative of Eureka Forbes, to provide five litres of clean and safe drinking water every day to those who needed it the most.

To view the photos of the event click here.

To view the video of the event click here.

To read a summary of the measures taken by the Government to promote Startups click here.