New Delhi: Facing slowdown in major markets abroad, the Indian IT industry today sought relief from double taxation on software, as well as cushion from protectionist measures being taken by several countries.
Representatives of information technology hardware and software industry in a pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also sought measures to facilitate exports and simplification and rationalisation of taxation.
They also demanded deferring implementation of the new guidelines to decide on the Place of Effective Management (POEM) by couple of years citing that short notice period can be a hurdle for industrial growth.
They also suggested that the scope of POEM need to be rationalised and made applicable to overseas shell companies, an official statement said.
The draft POEM guidelines of CBDT had suggested two stage process for determining the place of effective management of a company, with a view to assess its tax liability.
In his remarks, Jaitley said Indian economy has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a GDP growth of 7.3 per cent in 2014-15 compared to 6.9 per cent growth in 2013-14 and 5.1 per cent in 2012-13.
The IT sector, the Minister said, was a key pillar in various flagship initiatives like digital India, Make in India, Skill India as well as Start-up India, among others. "We have flagged our concerns with regard to double taxation on software products. While the GST will address that, we have suggested that some measures be taken to address the issue till the time GST comes into force," Nasscom President Rentala Chandrashekhar told reporters.
Government levies service tax on a software of foreign source downloaded from Internet while both VAT and service tax are levied on software purchased domestically. IT sector has asked the government to provide level playing field between the two.
Representatives from leading IT companies including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Wipro and HCL were also present in the meeting.
"The larger issue for Indian IT sector is to remain competitive in view of the protectionist measures being taken in some large markets," Chandrashekhar said. The US, which is the major source of business for Indian IT sector, hiked visa fee last month. The original H-1B visa application fee is just USD 325. Due to various levies imposed on them, almost all Indian IT companies would have to pay between USD 8,000 and USD 10,000 per H-1B visa from April 1 when the next filing session starts.
The IT players also urged the Finance Minister to provide them staggered payment option to employees which companies are required to make under a notification issued by Labour Ministry on bonus payment, effective since April 1, 2014.
The IT industry demanded that tax relief to the eligible development and sales activities by a SEZ unit be extended till March 2019 saying it will be unfair to deny tax benefits to such developers who have planned large investments in setting up SEZ infrastructure.
They also demanded reduction of corporate tax and minimum alternate tax (MAT), specific time bound policy to revive the mobile industry and incentive for pollution free industries and vehicles.
There is also need to create duty differential benefits for Indian IT hardware manufacturers especially in the case of mobile and tablets, the industry said.
It also called for a relook at the TRIPS Plus (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) commitment.
"We have requested the government that retrospective orders should be avoided. Now Labour Ministry rule on bonus has become a law. We have asked...to give us option of staggered payment," Chandrashekhar said.
IT companies have also requested for one-time relief for measures being taken in the aftermath of Chennai floods, with regard to benefits being given to employees like relief rehabilitation measures.