Budget 2020: Startups expect slew of sops from tax cuts to simplification of GST filing systems from finance minister

The government is expected to provide tax incentives to startups in the forthcoming Budget to support the growth of budding entrepreneurs

FP Staff February 01, 2020 08:00:57 IST
Budget 2020: Startups expect slew of sops from tax cuts to simplification of GST filing systems from finance minister
  • The government is expected to provide tax incentives to startups in the forthcoming Budget to support the growth of budding entrepreneurs

  • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has suggested several measures to the finance ministry for startups in the Budget

  • With ease of doing business being a prime focus area for the Government, the NBFC sector is looking forward to measures in Union Budget to bring NBFCs at par with Banks and other financial institutions on the regulatory landscape

The government is expected to provide tax incentives to startups in the forthcoming Budget to support the growth of budding entrepreneurs, sources said. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has suggested several measures to the finance ministry for startups in the Budget, according to a PTI report. The recommendations include an extension of tax incentives to incubators supported under Atal Innovation Mission; reduction in GST (Goods and Services Tax) rates on AIF (alternate investment fund) management fees; and tax benefits on ESOPs, they said.

Here's a Budget wishlist from startup entrepreneurs

Bhavin Turakhia, Founder & CEO, Flock, corporate communication platform

The two important sectors that should be an area of focus in the coming Union Budget is technology and startups. We would like the government to bring in measures to ease the compliance and filings guidelines for startups and eradicate the current penal provisions. Also, with technological disruption being a catalyst for the growth of startups today, we expect the government to make significant investments in technology hubs that will help strengthen emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things etc. As India is witnessing this boom in digital technology adoption, it has put us on the global map and we need to ensure that we take the relevant steps to ensure that our country is at the center of the fourth industrial revolution.

Tanuj Choudhry, Chief Business Officer, HomeLane, Bangalore-based startup

Owning a home is a basic human need and not a luxury. Home interiors is an essential part of owning a home, and therefore it is integral to consider home interiors at 12 percent GST slab instead of 18 percent. This will help in boosting demand alongside the much-anticipated change in income tax slabs. There needs to be more liquidity for homeowners to be able to spend more since personal income tax rates alone will not aid affordability for the consumer.

Another major cause for worry is the higher import duties imposed on paper and other input materials. This is mainly a concern for the home design and décor segment since paper is crucial for making products like laminates. If we want to have a ‘Make-in-India’ stamp, then the costs of getting quality material should be contained. While there is a need to revive our economy, import duties on many needs to be re-considered.

Vishal Saurav, Founder and CEO of Xboom Utilities

With the rising numbers of crime against women, addressing the issue of women’s safety and security and allocating a portion of the Budget in this regard is what we and other e-commerce startups like us who are working in the safety and security sector are expecting. Lowering the GST rate on women safety products to 5 percent from 18 percent would be one way to go about it. We also expect few women safety products to be as safety is not a luxury but a necessity. The import and export duty should get a revision so that trading in international markets gets a boost. The transportation charges in the railway should see a decline too as these will cut costs and make those safety products more affordable. To promote production in India, the women safety product manufacturers should get special benefits so that products become more affordable to the masses.

Saroja Yeramilli, CEO and Founder, Melorra, online jewellery

The government has had a pro-startup posture from the time it came into power. Last year, the government emphasised on digital payments and fee waivers on such transactions making it conducive for online retailers like Melorra. However, the increase in duty on gold import from 10 percent to 12.5 percent has been a dampener for us. There should be a smooth single-window process to make the entire journey of regulatory approvals and compliances less time-consuming for emerging businesses. This is more so in case of women-led startups. There must also be some regulatory change in the ESOP regime, making ESOP taxation available to employees at the time of sale instead of later.

Sanchit Gaurav, Co-founder, Housejoy, one-stop solution for all home-related needs

The government has recently infused capital in real estate and infrastructure but more needs to come in, particularly in Tier 2 and 3 areas. Technology is also disrupting the construction industry and with more fillip to the government’s Digital India and Make in India campaigns, it is possible to fuel its development further. The construction industry is in urgent need of a fundamental rehaul. If done in a timely and correct manner, it will not only help individual growth but also lead the economy towards recovery. We hope the budget will enable this and more.

Anil Kumar Prasanna, CEO, AxisRooms, channel management solution provider

We have seen some promising steps for startups by the government starting with removal of angel tax, MSME loans of Rs 1 crore and Mudra loans. The key problems persisting the policies are execution. Especially most of the time the MSME site for loan approval is always down as even with approval some startups have had problems to secure this loan. Every year we see allocation of large amount of money for startups. From the last allocation of 10,000 crores, we had only seen 30 percent allocated or deployed- too less compared to the allotted funds and there is still no accountability if this money has actually gone to startups or is with fund management companies like SIDBI.

Shashwat Diesh and Aqib Mohammed, Co-Founders, Azah-Female wellness startup

We hope the government makes changes in the current GST policy for businesses selling nil GST products and help balance the input–output tax to ensure more competitive prices for the Indian consumers and implement sustainable policies that help increase liquidity in households thereby increasing the consumption in our country in the near future.

Ambarish Ghosh, Founder and Director, The Hillcart Tales, Kolkata-based tea blending startup

The tea industry can become a powerhouse for generating employment in India. It can employ a great proportion of the million-plus workforce of the country in a variety of roles. For this, the sector must become more viable through reduction in the costs of production and increase in selling prices. There is a need for a uniform GST of 5 percent to be applied on all products including flavored teas. This will help the industry in sustaining itself. Another major area of focus should be on increasing the budgetary allocation for infrastructure development and ease of doing business in India which will help attract more foreign investments.

On the e-commerce front, the government should look at lowering income tax and putting more money in the hands of the consumers to encourage domestic consumption in the economy. Small or home entrepreneurs should be freed from GST obligations and the government must ensure parity between online and offline suppliers that have a turnover below Rs 40 lakh. Additionally, some clarity on e-commerce policies will set the pace for startups for the year ahead.

Kashish Jhamb, Executive Director and CEO, City Innovates, a tech startup in the digital marketing space

For Budget 2020, we would like the government to provide benefit to young entrepreneurs in terms of setting up of new companies or supporting new ideas by providing suitable subsidy. There should be a lower corporate tax of Rs 25 percent to 28 percent for young entrepreneurs which have less than to Rs 5 crore turnover. The Government speaks a lot about moving into the digital space and motivate small offline businesses to convert it into online businesses, but there is no support system from the government.

Nalin Agrawal (Founder and CEO, Snapmint, a financial services platform

The Budget should cut down duties on oil to reduce transportation costs so that the cost of distribution in Tier 2 to 5 cities comes down. The government needs to continue showing strong support to these cities by trying to upgrade the urban infrastructure by upgrading the MRTS, airports; introducing SEZs etc. Tier 2 to 5 cities and towns contribute more than 50 percent to ecommerce and online retail. However, there is limited logistical reach and reliability in these regions. Deeper penetration of courier services and further enhancement of postal services will go a long way in
cementing the logistical roadblocks.

Budget 2020 Startups expect slew of sops from tax cuts to simplification of GST filing systems from finance minister

Representational image - Reuters

Abhishek Kothari, Co-Founder, FlexiLoans, fintech startup

The Union Budget 2019 of India had claimed Artificial Intelligence to be high on the agenda in the digital sector of the Budget. This announcement was significant, given that China has been consistently building an ecosystem to fuel its ambition to become a world leader in AI, by 2030. The government’s focus should be on bringing policies into the country that encourage the growth of AI companies. This implies that there is less red tape and more progress, further ensuring that entrepreneurs are focused on providing solutions without unnecessary distractions. It would also be great to see if government themselves start allocating budgets for improving public services using AI. For instance: Bhavin Turakhia, Founder & CEO, Flock, corporate communication platform

The two important sectors that should be an area of focus in the coming Union Budget is technology and startups. We would like the government to bring in measures to ease the compliance and filings guidelines for startups and eradicate the current penal provisions. Also, with technological disruption being a catalyst for the growth of startups today, we expect the government to make significant investments in technology hubs that will help strengthen emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things etc. As India is witnessing this boom in digital technology adoption, it has put us on the global map and we need to ensure that we take the relevant steps to ensure that our country is at the center of the fourth industrial revolution.

Anil Kumar Gupta, Partner, MSC, fintech startup

July 2019 Budget provided for the overdraft for all women SHG member having PMJDY account. This can increase banking penetration among women and can help empower women. However, this great initiative is still to be rolled out. We feel that the trick lies in the implementation by the banks. We hope that banks make suitable amendments in their processes so that women can get unhindered access to the overdraft as promised in the budget. Banks and policy makers can take a staggered approach based on stage of the SHG before they are formally linked through credit or top up individual accounts with overdraft to provide additional low cost credit cushion. This is more important in the current economic situation that we are witnessing in rural India.

Kuldeep Pandit, Co-founder and CEO, Home Jiny, retail startup

The retail industry still has huge head winds with low margins across players, be it kiranas, modern trade or ecommerce. This is an industry that serves almost 90 percent of population ahead of any other industry in customer reach. The government should focus on strengthening ‘Make in India’ along with laying more emphasis on building the next level of retail and ecommerce. There should be tax and other reliefs for start-ups, simpler process of approvals, ability to get FDI to compete against US and Indian giants. FDI in retail and ecommerce should be made more competitive against global giants such as Amazon and Flipkart and now Indian behemoths like Reliance.

Neerav Jain, Founder and CEO of Cityfurnish, retail startup

I hope the government will show full support towards the startup ecosystem. Treating startups in the same bracket as already established multinationals is unsuitable. There should be separate taxation policies along with benefits to ensure ease of doing business for startups. We hope direct involvement and investment from the government towards the startup ecosystem will be extremely encouraging for job creation through entrepreneurship. To give the much-needed impetus to the growth of the economy, the government must provide clarity on FDI regulations as well. The furniture industry would also be elated if the consumer are given House Rental Allowance, to provide them with tax benefits. Together with the support of the government, the startup ecosystem is looking forward to doing greater business in 2020.

Puneet and Yatin Jain Directors, ODHNI, retail sector.

Over 6 crores MSMEs are sharing around 29 percent to India’s GDP and they expect the government will introduce favourable policies and allocate substantial funds for the growth of MSMEs. Presently, out of 32,385 applications filed by MSMEs, 2,031 applications have been disposed of by the government under the delayed payment monitoring system called MSME Samadhaan. Apart from the lack of access to capital, infrastructure, skilled labour and power supply issues are some of the problems that plague MSMEs in India. Therefore, Indian entrepreneur hopes that the Union Budget 2020 will provide some long-term benefits to the MSME sector with better access to credit and lenient taxation policies.

Neel Juriasingani, CEO & Co-founder, Datacultr, Delhi-based IoT startup

We are optimistic that with this Union Budget 2020, the government will come up with some major policy and structural reforms towards strengthening their key programs—Digital India, Startup India. The Budget needs to emphasize the importance of better digital infrastructure by improving internet connectivity in rural areas and establishing centers of excellence for research & training. We are hopeful that the upcoming budget will have policies and recommendations that will further strengthen the ecosystem. We also expect that this time the union budget will push institutions to disburse more funds to tech start-ups that are in the space of financial inclusion and aim to have an impact with disruptive technology at the bottom of the pyramid.

Nitin Mittal, CEO, SOLV, B2B commerce platform

Improve Liquidity through technology and alternate credit models: The Budget this year needs to look at extending the policy to include interest subvention basis digital data of transactions and order fulfilment. Also, extension of the credit facility via private banks, small banks, NBFCs and fintech lenders is the need of the hour. This framework will ease liquidity for almost 95 percent of the 63 million plus MSMEs that are not in the formal credit fold currently.

Dedicated allocation towards improving warehousing, transportation and last mile delivery infrastructure: In order to bring MSMEs mainstream, it is imperative for policy to nudge ease of movement of goods, which is a major problem, especially in the exports segment. Also, temperature-controlled facilities are key to growth of the agriculture and pharma segments. Dedicated allocation for Trade and warehousing zones akin to SEZs for capacity creation needs to be fast-tracked. Additionally, infrastructure grids for last-mile delivery needs to be created for efficient commerce across the country.

Bring efficiency in the GST refund system and extend working capital lines: Working capital credit lines need to be extended to MSMEs against legitimate GST refund claims.

Allocations to be made towards Quality Management Systems to increase exports and competitiveness in the global market: Considering the competition that low-cost labor rich countries are posing, especially to industries like the textile, it is critical to facilitate infrastructure towards quality control.

Ashish Bhatia, Founder & MD, India Accelerator

The startups are hoping that the Budget will announce initiatives that could pull more foreign capital and boost growth. The reduction in GST charges will encourage more foreign investors to invest in Indian startups. Currently, the tax rate of long-term capital gains is 28.5 percent as compared to the same for listed equities to be 10%. This creates a significant tax burden on founders and employees of startups, as well as domestic angel and institutional investors. Further, the relaxation of personal income tax rates will act as a booster shot. It will certainly help the startup companies and the millenials to improve further and ease doing business.

Shashank Dixit, CEO, Deskera, a Singapore-based cloud-based software provider

I am very optimistic about this year’s Union Budget and believe that the primary focus should be on simplifying the GST filing process. This move will greatly benefit SMEs who are the backbone of the Indian economy. While the GST council has taken several steps to simplify the process over the past couple of years, there still exists some lingering issues such as matching of B2B invoices, uploading information on tax returns and compliance burden of SMEs. Also, small businesses that are registered spend a considerable amount of time in obtaining state-wise registration, filing of multiple returns, generation of e-way bills and maintenance of separate books of accounts for each registered entity. I believe that once these issues are addressed, it will increase transparency in the system and bring accuracy to the return filing process. This in turn will prepare the Indian economy for its next phase of growth.

Bishan Jain, Director, Goldmedal Electricals, home-grown FMCG

The Indian manufacturing sector has become one of the most attractive destinations for investments in the recent past. While the government has already unveiled plans to boost growth in manufacturing, construction sectors and improving infrastructure, the government should ramp up its efforts in the upcoming budget. The government must underline its continued commitment towards electrification of villages across the country. Furthermore, it should definitely put in additional efforts on solar energy projects, with the right incentives, which can be a valuable avenue for income generation and also help combat climate change. As consumers are becoming more aware about environment sustainability, there should be more focus on promotion of sustainable solutions that will help in reducing India’s carbon footprint.

Kunal Lakhara, VP of Finance and Operations, Pocket Aces, digital content platform

We hope the government focuses on steps to provide capital to the industry players. This could be in the form of incentivising banks and other financial institutions to lend money to industry participants especially start-ups in the sector. Furthermore, the government could do very well by lowering tax rates and removing exemptions, revisit tax regulations especially for start-ups. This will not only provide tax reforms but also enhance the efficiency of tax collections. On the personal front, the government should reduce taxes by enhancing the slab rates. With lower tax incidence, more will be left with the consumers to spend and consume, which in turn will create demand for products and services.

Gautam Bansal, SVP Finance, Shiprocket, a tech-enabled logistic platform

A comprehensive eCommerce policy would provide future direction and confidence in the industry and help investors/ entrepreneurs take decisions faster. There need to be incentives given out to the smaller businesses as against currently growing multinational monopoly, without jeopardizing the business confidence of foreign investors in India as an investment destination. Also, the government needs to come out with a special package for the logistics sector, especially smaller enterprises and start-ups. To start with, Govt. needs to enter a dialogue with logistics eCommerce start-ups and come in govt.-private partnership models for infrastructure/ tech/ skill development and tax sops for strengthening logistics in India.

Siddhartha Gupta, CEO, Mercer|Mettl , a talent assessment firm

As we are chasing to be India’s third-largest economy soon with a GDP of $8.4 by the end of this decade, India has to leverage the demographic dividend that it’s currently enjoying. Through this budget, I hope to see more money being pumped into reskilling and skilling in emerging technologies that could define the path for future growth potential. For our industry as well as in general, our budget expectations lay in more investment in laying foundation and infrastructure for skill development through education that is practical and provides hands-on experience in technology.

Lakshmi Mittra, VP – Center of Excellence (CoE) and Clover Academy, Clover Infotech

New-age technologies are disrupting business models and creating numerous opportunities for the youth. However, there’s a considerable gap between what is taught in education institutions and the actual skills required by the industry. The government should introduce measures to empower institutions that are proactively working towards bridging this gap and creating highly skilled human capital for the country.

Rahul Bhalchandra, CEO & Co-Founder, YLG Salon, beauty salon chains in south India

We are looking for the upcoming Budget to include tax sops, especially for the MSME and the SME sector as they contribute in a big way to the growth of the economy and creating new jobs. We hope that the focus of the government lies in bringing back the confidence in consumer spending, and address liquidity that was draining out of the market, in order to increase purchasing power and capacity of individuals. We also wish for ease of VC and PE investment flow in the MSME sector that has high growth potential. This will foster growth for companies striving in this competitive environment to meet their targets. Local businesses, and skill development should be a focal point in order to encourage entrepreneurial behavior in the country which ultimately fulfills the government’s ‘Make in India’ objective. We expect policy reforms in labour, ease of doing business, particularly for retailers that will aid our industry to grow and flourish, including easier credit options and skill development support for the budding workforce entering the industry.

Raj N Phani, founder of Zaggle, expense management startup

We hope to Budget 2020 focusses more on the startup sector and on creating a conducive environment for their growth. The first five years after company incorporation should be made tax free for startups. Startup Fund Disbursements should be on Blockchain and visible to everyone. There is also a need to ensure that Zero Capital Gains Tax is charged on any investor who invests in startups once they exit from the venture. This will encourage more investment into new companies. The government should also consider allowing crowdfunding into startups subject to a maximum defined amount. Clear and demarcated tax sops for fintech startups that service the needs of SMEs/MSMEs will help aid growth and encourage more people to become entrepreneurs. Tax relaxation for merchants accepting digital payments will enable India to move faster towards becoming a cashless economy.

Sudeshna Datta, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, Absolutdata, custom AI platform for enterprise, data science services and advanced analytics

We expect the government to put forth focused initiatives that will help India strengthen the momentum of its digital growth and contribute to the global growth story. India is steadily paving its path towards becoming a knowledge economy. However, there is a need for a key focus on upskilling and reskilling amongst the existing workforce and the country’s youth. This will help to bridge the pressing skill-gap and enable them to effectively navigate through the dynamics brought about by new and emerging technologies.

As we continue to witness a rapid digital transformation across industries, we hope that the Indian government will extend further support towards developing technological innovations and give a boost to new-age businesses in the ecosystem. We look forward to seeing more investments in the Artificial Intelligence sector, in particular, as indicated in the interim budget so that the benefits of AI technology can truly reach the masses. The delivery of this should be given priority in the short, medium and long term as well, in order to transform the architecture of our society into one that is forward-thinking and future-ready.

Navneet Singh, CEO, Avsar HR Services

There’s no doubt that the Indian economy of late has relatively weakened. Some measures that the government should definitely look into are – Infusing liquidity in the market that will lead to credit growth and open up the doors for numerous job opportunities. In addition, necessary amendments should be brought in this Budget to simplify the GST structure, rationalize the rates, and ensure a seamless flow of input tax credit, among others. The expectation is that the government should immediately focus on improving the institutional structure and removing obstacles that constrain growth - undertaking bolder reforms of land, labour, regulations, governance, the business environment, and the public sector will help in reducing the cost and improving the ease of doing business in India. It would be encouraging to see the government's effort to engage the private sector in projects and address financial gaps through public-private participation.

Akshita Gupta, Co-founder and CMO, ABL Workspaces

Compliances for start-ups’ is a major concern. Most young entrepreneurs, with conviction in their ideas, jump into the business blindly, later realising the amount of efforts that goes into putting together monthly GST returns, TDS filings, PF, ESI, etc., along with that different mandatory audits is a real focus diverter. Entrepreneurs need to focus on their core area of expertise and only restructuring compliances can enable that. Start-ups’ need more support in indirect taxes. Thus, we feel TDS should be 2% for coworking sector as the spaces are on rent and overall margins of coworking operators in most cases are less than 10 percent.

DD Mishra, Sr Director Analyst, Gartner.

The Narendra Modi government should now speed up the Digital India dream even faster and the government spend on the technology sector should increase. The government should focus and invest on faster creation of digital infrastructure to drive a technology-led economy. Additionally, we need better connectivity to boost our economy faster. The telecom sector outlook is not looking positive and hence there needs to be immediate measure to ensure that expansion and innovation of digital network continues across the country including the rural sector.

Sameer Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, RevFin, fintech

While several schemes have been announced for startups, these schemes are not benefitting or reaching all startups. I would like to see a clear and comprehensive framework to qualify companies as startups. This will set a high bar for qualification and better governance within the startups as well. All qualifying start-ups should have certain benefits guaranteed to them, which include tax benefits, capital availability, ability to participate in tenders etc. Several startups, especially bootstrapped ones find it difficult to scale. Profitability also remains a challenge. In order to make start-ups scale and profitable, the supply of capital is crucial. For this one specific measure would be to launch a loan scheme for start-ups. This scheme can be made available through public and private sector banks, at their best available interest rates. All qualifying startups should be able to get this loan without any additional requirements and the government could provide guarantees to banks up to a certain proportion of these loans. The only restriction would be on the amount of loan, for which criteria could be defined on a combination of equity and revenue/cash flow.

Amitt Sharma, Founder & CEO, VDO.AI, Next Generation Video Solutions

India has developed into the second-largest startup center in the world and thus the startup founders like have a huge hope from the upcoming Union Budget 2020. We expect the upcoming budget to be a favorable one for all of us. We expect the government to keep on supporting startups and new age economy businesses in the same way as before so that we flourish more aggressively and aid to the development of India. Further reduction of corporate tax, a more favorable regime for taxation for startups has been a long-standing desire for our community and I hope these areas would be taken care of.

Upmanyu Misra, Co-founder & CEO, Cianna Capital,venture capital

The NDA government has achieved a decisive mandate that will not be tested for at least 2-3 years. Therefore I hope they focus on fixing infrastructural issues in the economy rather than falling in the trap of synthetically aiming for 6 percent growth. Inflation and interest rates are in a manageable range. The budget should be geared towards fixing jobs which will be the key for long term growth. For that, we need a positive mood within Corporations. But Corporations need help with their balance sheet. This help can be provided via a two-pronged strategy – make foreign equity route palatable for all stakeholders and provide tax exemptions in a meaningful manner.

On the tactical side, we should spend money to modernize RBI and templatise investment processes. We need to attract foreign debt as developed equity markets are getting too hot and 2020 may see rising interest in India private debt. Masala bonds are not easy for small to mid-sized transactions.

Whether or not the NDA encounters geopolitical earthquakes in 2020, it is likely to face major headwinds resulting from internal policies such as NRC, CAA etc. Therefore it is their best opportunity to apply long terms fixes to the economy and set it on a path to political autonomy and policy credibility.

Raktim Chattopadhyay, Founder & CEO, Esperer Bioresearch, nutritional companies for cancer patients

For corporates: To ease framework of execution to the lengthy process of corporate M&As/ restructuring through the courts, the government should either prescribe a fixed time frame for the process or designate SEBI or department of company affairs as a single-window authority for all approvals.

In health: Improve access to healthcare for low income households and Reduce health related costs for low income households

In taxation: real estate to include significant tax reliefs that can help prop up the sector.

In GST: some possible changes to facilitate small business to become more hassle free.

Considering the difficulties in proposing and implementing the Budget 2020 at this juncture, budgetary policy has to create more trusting and rewarding environment for investors, keeping revenues stable and boosting demand through public investment and spending, and then India can expect a reasonable legacy in coming days.

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