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Centre sends tax notices to cryptocurrency investors as trading hits USD 3.5 bn

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New Delhi: India has sent tax notices to tens of thousands of people dealing in cryptocurrency after a nationwide survey showed more than USD 3.5 billion worth of transactions have been conducted over a 17-month period, the income tax department said.
Tech-savvy young investors, real estate players and jewellers are among those invested in bitcoin and other virtual currencies, tax officials said after gathering data from nine exchanges in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune.
Governments around the world are grappling with how to regulate cryptocurrency trading, and policymakers are expected to discuss the matter at a G20 summit in Argentina in March.
The Indian government has issued repeated warnings against digital currency investments, saying these were like “Ponzi schemes” that offer unusually high returns to early investors.
But it has not so far imposed curbs on an industry estimated to be adding 200,000 users in India every month.
BR Balakrishnan, a director general of investigations at the income tax department in the southern state of Karnataka, said notices were sent following the survey to assess the penetration and patterns of virtual currency trade.
“We cannot turn a blind eye. It would have been disastrous to wait until the final verdict was out on its legality,” he said.
The tax department has asked people dealing in bitcoin and other virtual currencies such as ethereum and ripple to pay tax on capital gains. They have also asked for details about their total holdings and the source of funds in the tax notice seen by Reuters.
“We found that investors were not reflecting it on their tax returns and in many cases, the investment was not accounted for,” Balakrishnan said.
Bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, soared more than 1,700 percent last year, hitting a record high just shy of USD 20,000 as institutional and retail investors around the world snapped up the virtual currency.
Its huge gains have attracted the attention of global regulators tasked with protecting investors from fraud.
In recent weeks, Japan and China have made noises about a regulatory crackdown, while South Korean policymakers said they were considering shutting down domestic virtual currency exchanges.


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Cabinet clears setting up of centralised GST appellate authority

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New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved setting up of a centralised Appellate Authority for Advance Ruling (AAAR) under the goods and services tax that would decide on cases where there are divergent orders at the state level.

The setting up of a centralised AAAR would require amendments to the GST Acts. The centralised authority as an appellate body will only take up cases wherein the Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR) of two states have passed divergent orders.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and comprising state counterparts, in December decided to establish the centralised AAAR.

 

“The Cabinet has cleared the GST appellate authority,” a source said after the meeting of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In view of the confusion created by contradictory rulings given by different AARs on the same or similar issues, the industry had been demanding a centralised appellate authority that could reconcile the contradictory verdicts of different AARs.

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Urbanisation to be big driver of Indian economic growth: Kant

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Davos: Urbanisation will be a big driver of economic growth in India going forward, supported by favourable macroeconomic factors, accelerated infrastructure building and continuing reforms, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said.

Speaking here at an event on sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, he also said the Indian economy may even exceed the IMF growth forecast of 7.5 per cent for the country.

Kant said IMF has forecast 7.5 per cent growth for India despite a gloomy outlook for the global economy and this itself is good, though there are expectations that this estimate would be surpassed. He said India is giving a big push to urbanisation with more than 100 smart cities being developed.

 

The country is also using technology in a big way to change the way business and governance is done, he added. Besides a massive infrastructure building is happening, bank credit flow has rebounded and macroeconomic factors like inflation and fiscal deficit are also being supportive, Kant said.

DIPP Secretary Ramesh Abhishek noted that states are competing with each other to attract investments and all political parties have adopted the economic reform process. He listed various reform initiatives undertaken in India, including on areas like ease of doing business, FDI, manufacturing and taxation.

They were speaking at Institutional investors’ breakfast roundtable, organised by the industry chamber CII and Kotak Mahindra Bank. Other participants included CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee and leaders from Indian and foreign companies.

On questions about some persisting issues in doing business including on tax and insolvency related issues, Abhishek said a lot of efforts have been put in to remove all bottlenecks and starting a business doesn’t take more than a day. Besides, special provisions have been made for startups and angel investors, he added.

Kant said efforts are also being made to remove all physical intervention and digitise the entire process of inter-ministerial and inter-department consultations to fast-track the decisions.

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India will surpass China, says Raghuram Rajan

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Davos: India will eventually surpass China in economic size and will be in a better position to create the infrastructure being promised by the Chinese side in South Asian countries, former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said.

Addressing a session on Strategic Outlook for South Asia, Dr Rajan said that the Indian economy would continue to grow while growth rate is slowing down in China.

“Historically, India had a bigger role in the region but China has now grown much bigger than India and has presented itself as a counter-balance to India in the region,” Dr Rajan said at the WEF Annual Meeting 2019.

 

“India will become bigger than China eventually as China would slow down and India would continue to grow. So India will be in a better position to create the infrastructure in the region which China is promising today. But this competition is good for the region and it will benefit for sure,” he said.

The comments assume significance with China working on a lot of infrastructure projects across the region. In 2017, India became the sixth largest economy with a GDP of $2.59 trillion while China was the second large with a GDP of $12.23 trillion.

At the same session, Nepal PM K.P. Sharma Oli cited collaboration with China as well as India as reasons for the economic growth.

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