Moneylife Events
Sand Mining: Need estimates and mapping of demand and supply
The film ‘Line in the Sand’, on the rampant scam of illegal sand mining across the country was screened for the first time in Mumbai on Saturday. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has produced the 20-minute documentary. The screening was attended by its Indian Director Savitri Chaudhury and three Activists, which it featured, Sumaira Abdulali, Aakash Chauhan and Brijmohan Yadav. The film tells their stories while taking on the sands mafia including attacks, which all three of them faced.
 
The screening was followed by a panel discussion. The panelists included Dr Praveen Gedam, who, as District Collector at Solapur developed the sand mining approval and tracking system (SMAT) that has been adopted across India as the National Sustainable Sand Mining Guidelines.  Other panelists included Yashwant Sontakke from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Joy Thakur from Environment Department, activists Aakash Chauhan, Brijmohan Yadav and Nandakumar Pawar, an activist from Bhandup in Mumbai. Sumaira Abdulali, convener of Awaaz Foundation moderated the discussion. 
 
All panellist and participants agreed that the government must take steps to stop illegal sand mining that is endangering environment and livelihood of lakhs of people.
 
Mining of sand is considered a necessity under current situation where there are few alternatives available. However, little effort is made to find and implement such alternatives and the State has left it up to individual builders to use such technology if suitable. No efforts to map available sand stocks and match them with requirements for building requirements of the Development Plan –DP are made and the draft Regional Plan currently under circulation does not map the source of sand to supply the quantities needed to execute the DP. 
 
 
Solapur has always been notorious for the illegal sand mining and mafia gangs that operate without fear due to support from politicians. Describing his action against illegal sand mining, Dr Gedam, who is the Transport Commissioner at present, says, "The District Administration received good support from Police. We levied heavy fine on illegal sand mining, and also filed cases against those involved in this. We impounded the sand, vehicles and other equipment used in illegal sand mining.  These efforts from district administration also saw about 425 first information reports (FIRs) filed against the illegal cartels of sand mafias in FY2013-14 alone. In addition, the District Administration also intimated the Income Tax and Sales Tax department about these people involved in illegal sand mining. In short, we pounded from all sides and this helped us to curb illegal sand mining and boost revenues from sand mining to Rs78 crore in FY2013-14 from Rs22 crore a year ago."
 
Nandkumar Pawar, who works for protection of mangroves , wetlands and welfare of coastal community across Mumbai Metropolitan Region, feels people from his fishermen community are involved in illegal sand mining out of compulsion to survive. "With increased pollution, encroachment and killing of mangroves and wetlands, our community is unable to continue fishing for its livelihood. In the absence of any other alternative, they are now working in the illegal sand mining at lower rung," he says. They need rehabilitation into alternate legal activities.
 
 
Mr Sontakke from MPCB felt that complete ban on sand mining is not possible, but we need to think about alternatives to raw materials used in construction industry.
 
According to Mr Thakur, the builder is required to apply for permission stating his requirement for raw materials. "The Environment Department has allowed manual mining with use of suction pumps in exceptional cases. However, many a times, suction pumps are used for sand mining. In these matters, the District Collector as authority is vested with powers to take action," he said.
 
Ms Chaudhry talked about some of the dangers, loneliness and isolation faced by the activists such as Brijmohan Yadav and Akash Chauhan in remote areas. 
 
The audience, comprising students and senior academics, activists and concerned citizens signed a memorandum to the Prime Minister ‘technology is now available to create alternatives to sand, the government must take a lead by mandating the use of aggregates for its own projects, or explain where the sand is coming from.”
 
The event was organized by Awaaz Foundation along with Moneylife Foundation and Global Enviro Solutions.
 

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How foolproof is Aadhaar? Does it serve the purpose that was claimed?
Aadhaar, which is used as a tool under the Digital India movement, is ending up excluding rather than including eligible beneficiaries of government subsidies and programmes and has the potential to unleash undetectable financial crimes, was the broad conclusion of Prof Dr Usha Ramanathan and Dr Anupam Saraph. They were speaking at a seminar on "Legal issues that will arise if individual identity and biometrics are compromised" organised by Moneylife Foundation at Mumbai.
 
Highlighting the risk factors associated with Aadhaar, Dr Saraph says, "It is shocking to know that the biometrics used in Aadhaar are stored by the enrolment agencies. Last month, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) itself in a notice to some agencies notes this risk. What is more shocking is with the stored biometrics data, any transaction can be performed without the person's physical presence."
 
"Unlike other documents, like the passport, and driving license, which are issued by the government, the UIDAI letter is not signed by anyone. This on other words, mean, when the government official sign and puts up the official seal, he or she is taking responsibility of the data or information recorded. In case of Aadhaar, there is no verification, no authentication or auditing of the information collected by private agencies and hence, there is no sign or seal of any government official," he added.
 
 
Dr Saraph, also discussed alternative ways to use legal or police mechanisms to protect individual and national risk from Aadhaar. He stated people who are threatening to submit Aadhaar can resist it by writing letters to the concerned authority. He had written an article on resisting violation of the Supreme Court order in the Aadhaar matters. (Read: Resisting violations of the Supreme Court Orders on Aadhaar)
 
Dr Usha Ramanathan gave an overview of the issues that are already there before various courts in the country. She also highlighted the responsibility before the judiciary as well as the investigation agencies to protect the rights of individuals and the sovereignty of the country. 
 
Calling the government savings in subsidy through subsidy as a 'gimmick', she says, nobody wants to talk about those whose fingerprints were not detected or there was a mismatch in Aadhaar number. "This is misinterpreted as savings on subsidies. They even side lined the report from CAG, which clearly stated that the savings of about Rs1700 crore in LPG distribution was not because of Aadhaar or stopping leakages, but it was due to reduction in oil prices in global markets,"
 
Dr Ramanathan feels through the enforced use of Aadhaar, data points are being created to design and sell products to people who does not even have the basic knowledge of this digital thing. "Technology is now helping them to hide corruption. Increased dependence on technology is making sure that there are no administrators or government officials present on field to know, understand practical problems faced by people. There is no grievance redressal system on this digital thing," she added.
 
Both speakers also responded to the charges made by Mr Nandan Nilekani, founder of Aadhaar.  The meeting was attended by several senior lawyers and activists.
 
 

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COMMENTS

Rajan Vaswani

7 months ago

Highlighting the issue with Aadhar is fine, but what is the solution to fix it, as it is this big elephant in the room that is visible to all?

In my opinion, there can be trust levels placed on the aadhar data. For example, if the aadhar biometric has matched with the passport authentication and the passport is signed and hooked to that aadhar number, that is the highest possible trust that can place on the aadhar data.

Where this has not happened, aadhar data, unsigned by any govt. official will stand as no trust. "No trust" data needs additional validation to be authenticated, which is bypassed, as aadhar is used as basis of eKYC for phones, etc. leading to no trust being used as proof, whose identity data cannot be vouched for, although the biometric identifies to that physical individual, albeit not to other information about that individual.

Whilst capturing the data is something the government outsourced, the verification of it is a sovereign function of the state, which again was outsourced. Verifying aadhar identities via additional source like passport, where biometrics are captured, will partly fix the issue, but it is a long haul as there will be several aadhar holders without passports, to go to 100 per cent trust. Maybe, the government now undertakes the clean up for those whose aadhar data is not verified by it.

Mukesh kamath

7 months ago

Lpg gas consumption has increased. While there is a cap per connection this implies more people are using lpg. More over 1.8 crore consumers have given it up. Why no mention of that? Those with concerns of privacy can opt to lock their biometrics so that no one can misuse. India stack has provisions of consent mechanism and i am sure a privacy law to govern it will come our way soon.

Last minute tips to save tax and budget changes for next year
While planning to save tax before March, one needs to take into considerations total income, including income from salary, house property, capital gains and income from other sources as well as deductions allowed under various sections like 80C and 80D. Understanding total income and deductions or benefits allowed under the Income Tax Act allows one to plan better for saving tax, says Nikhil Vadia, a practising Chartered Accountant (CA) and expert at Moneylife Foundation's Free Tax Helpline. 
 
He was speaking at a seminar on 'Last minute tips to save tax and budget changes' organised by the Foundation in Mumbai.
 
According to Mr Vadia, before planning to save tax one needs to understand the concept of total income and tax already deducted in the form of tax deduction at source (TDS). He said, "The tax payer needs to check form 26AS from IncomeTaxefiling.gov.in website or through net banking with pay slips for tax deducted up to December 2016. Verify simulated tax computation provided by employer for entire year with total salary, various deductions allowed and investment declarations considered."
 
"If the taxpayer has received ESOPs received during the year, then she needs to check the perquisite valuation with market price and amount paid. For ESOPs of parent company, the employee working for Indian unit needs to verify calculations with market price in the host country. She also need to ensure to disclose in income tax return (ITR) all accounts abroad like demat, broking and bank account. Any dividend received abroad is required to be declared as income in India and is fully taxable. Dividend reinvested to buy shares is also taxable. If shares are sold, then capital gains in fully taxable in India subject to deduction for tax paid abroad."
 
Many times, people change jobs during the financial year and hence need to check certain things while planning for tax savings, Mr Vadia says. "Check whether your last employer has considered all salaries received during entire year and deducted tax accordingly. If not then calculate the total taxable salary received from all employers and pay advance tax along with interest. For example, if salary received from Employer 1 is Rs5 lakh and Employer 2 is Rs4.5 lakh, then you need to pay tax on Rs9.5 lakh. If both employers have deducted tax considering independent slab rates, then advance tax would be payable by the taxpayer," he added.
 
Sometimes, the employer may not have considered some investments or the employee misses the deadlines for submitting proofs of investments. However, nothing to worry as the taxpayer can claim benefits while filing ITR, Mr Vadia said. He, however, said, "If there is difference of more than 10% in taxable salary as per form 16 and income tax return, one may receive a notice asking to explain the difference."
 
As per the new provision, of the taxpayer is paying a rent of Rs50,000 or more per month, then she is mandated to deduct TDS at the rate of 5% from the rental payment. This is applicable from 1 June 2017 to all individuals and Hindu undivided family (HUF), which are not covered by Section 194-I of the I-T Act, Mr Vadia said.
 
He then explained various provisions on income from house property. "In case one owns more than one house, then tax is payable on deemed rent on second house onwards as per the choice of assessee and TDS is usually deducted at a rate of 10% on rent received. If there is some other income also, then advance tax for balance 20% needs to be paid. In case you are paying rent to a landlord who is non-resident Indian (NRI) and claiming house rent allowance (HRA) benefit, then you need to deduct tax at a rate of 30.9%." 
 
He says, "In case of co-owners, the rent received is included in respective income based on determined share or contribution towards purchase of property. From 2016-17 onwards, one has five years to complete construction of house instead of three earlier to claim interest expenses. From 2016-17 onwards arrears of rent received or the unrealised rent realised subsequently, will be deemed to be income of the financial year in which such rent is received or realised and 30% deduction will be allowed from such rent as per new section 25A."
 
"From FY2017-18, loss on house property income is restricted to Rs2 lakh per year, even for let out property, which was unlimited earlier. Carry forward of excess loss is allowed for eight years. For builders and developers, from FY2017-18 onwards, income tax will have to be paid on deemed rent for completed house after one year," he added.
 
Mr Vadia then explained capital gains (CG). He says, "For asset sales during the year, the taxpayer (or seller) needs to calculate CG tax and pay advance tax accordingly. Interest for earlier instalments of advance tax is not payable if entire CG tax paid in next instalments as per Section 234C. The taxpayer needs to check from form 26AS, whether the buyer had deposited the 1% TDS and the same is reflecting in the form. The seller also needs to obtain form 16B from the buyer."
 
 
Several people want to save CG tax by investing the proceeds from asset sales in bonds. Mr Vadia said, "The time limit for claiming exemption under Section 54 (buying one new house) or section 54F (one new house on sale of any other asset) is one year prior, two years afterwards or construction within three years from the date of sale. The new house has to be in India. For exemption under Section 54, the capital gain needs to be invested while for Section 54F, the entire sale consideration is required to be invested. If exemption under Section 54F is claimed, then the taxpayer cannot purchase new house for one year or construct one within 3 years."
 
Some people buy house owned by a non-resident Indian (NRI). In such cases, they need to deduct TDS at a rate of 30.9% and not 1%. The buyer also needs to obtain a TAN number and deposit the tax and file TDS return in Form 27Q. Also when the house property is bought from an NRI, the buyer should not use for 26QB for paying TDS. The NRI can obtain a lower tax deduction certificate under Section 197, he added.
 
Mr Vadia then explained some new changes proposed in the Budget related with capital gains. He says, "From FY2017-18, holding period for land, building or both has been reduced to two years from three years. Long-term gain on sale of shares would be exempt only if STT is paid at the time of purchase from 1 April 2017. Holding period of mutual fund (MF), in case of scheme consolidation will be from the date of holding of original scheme, which is applicable from 1 April 2016 onwards. Also the original transfer from one scheme to other will also not be a taxable transfer as per Budget 2016."
 
Highlighting a new change in the Budget, Mr Vadia said, the base year for capital gains is now shifted to 2001 from 1981. "So, if you are planning to sell a house, it is better to do it after March 2017," he added.
 
Explaining the concept of income from other sources, the CA, who has over 20 years' experience in direct and indirect taxation, internal audit and management consultancy, says the taxpayer needs to do own calculations, especially for interest income and TDS. He says, "Interest on savings account above Rs10,000 is fully taxable. This is combined for all savings accounts held by a person including dormant or non-operative account, if any interest is credited. Irrespective of method of accounting, it is better to take fixed deposit interest based on banks' certificate and TDS reported in form 26AS." 
 
"If fixed deposit or other interest is high as TDS is deducted @10%, then the taxpayer is required to pay advance tax. Similarly, for non-convertible debentures (NCDs) and bonds held in demat form, no TDS is deducted, and the taxpayer needs to calculate and pay advance tax," he added. 
 
Mr Vadia also highlighted that interest earned on income tax refund is fully taxable.
 
He then explained several deductions that can be claimed under various sections like Section 80C, 80D (health insurance premium), Section 80DDB (deduction for medical treatment expenses), 80G (donations), 80CCD (1B-National Pension Scheme-NPS). 
 
 
Sharing some tips on tax filing and other issues, Mr Vadia says, returns for FY2014-15 cannot be filed beyond March 2017. "From next year onwards if return is filed late then fees of Rs1,000, Rs5,000 and Rs10,000 will be applicable as per Section 234F. Even the time limit for filing revised return is now reduced by one year. So make sure that correct return is filed. Cash transactions of more than Rs3 lakh are not allowed and there is a penalty of amount equivalent to transaction value under Section 269ST for this violation," he added.
 
According to Mr Vadia, Bengaluru-based Central Processing Centre has been given additional powers under Section 143(1) to do a review of return before processing from this year onwards. He said, "The CPC can make adjustments in wrong carry forward of loss, disallowance of expenditure in audit report but not taken in computation of income, additional income appearing in form 26AS, which is  not included while filing return, and disallowance of deductions made for business income. It will also provide an opportunity to the taxpayer of being heard before making these adjustments."
 

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COMMENTS

vswami

8 months ago

Instant (selectively):

“Highlighting a new change in the Budget, ....said, the base year for capital gains is now shifted to 2001 from 1981. "So, if you are planning to sell a house, it is better to do it after March 2017," he added.”

The purport of or the need for the suggestion is not understood. Be that as it may, suggest to look up , and consider the independent thoughts /viewpoints shared, vide the comments wrt the write-up @ https://www.taxmanagementindia.com/visi…/detail_article.asp…

To be precise: In one’s conviction, in regard to the expression used in the proposed amendment of sec 55 - “the cost of acquisition will be taken to be THE VALUE OF THE ASSET as on the 1st day of April, 2001” (FONT suppled) , the highlighted words, in order to put at rest all possible doubts, require to be explained to mean the “applicable Indexed Cost “ of acquisition.

“Highlighting a new change in the Budget, ....said, the base year for capital gains is now shifted to 2001 from 1981. "So, if you are planning to sell a house, it is better to do it after March 2017," he added.”
The purport of or the need for the suggestion is not understood. Be that as it may, recommend to look up, and independently consider the personal thoughts /viewpoints shared, vide the comments wrt the write-up @ https://www.taxmanagementindia.com/visitor/detail_article.asp?ArticleID=7277

To pinpoint: In one’s conviction, the expression used in the proposed amendment of sec 55 reads, - “the cost of acquisition will be taken to be THE VALUE OF THE ASSET as on the 1st day of April, 2001” (FONT supplied) is lacking in clarity. And, the highlighted words, in order to put at rest all possible doubts being floated around, require to be explained to mean the applicable “Indexed Cost “ of acquisition, as officially notified, on a year-to-year basis..

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