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India Loosens Tax Rules for Small Businesses, Exporters

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10/06/2017 | 07:24pm CEST
By Rajesh Roy and Anant Vijay Kala 

NEW DELHI -- India eased rules for small businesses and exporters under its new tax system, the goods-and-services tax, amid growing criticism that poor implementation is hurting business in the South Asian economy.

A panel headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said small businesses would be allowed to file tax returns every quarter instead of every month. The panel also raised the annual revenue threshold below which businesses won't need to maintain detailed accounts and cut tax rates on a number of goods.

The new tax system, which took effect July 1, replaced the country's unruly tangle of federal and state sales taxes with a single, nationwide levy.

The steps announced Friday underscored New Delhi's efforts to simplify the system, which has come under criticism from investors and businesses for its complexity, numerous tax rates and complicated return-filing procedures.

The panel also eased tax rules related to exports, aiming to provide quick refunds and tackle a cash shortage faced by many exporters, Mr. Jaitley said during a news conference.

Exporters were exempt from paying certain taxes on inputs under previous rules, but the new system required them to pay those taxes and then seek refunds, which takes time and has dried up cash availability.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged that the economy was slowing but said steps to reverse the slowdown were being planned.

"We have seen closely what is working and what is not. If something needs to be done, we shall do it," Mr. Modi had said.

Write to Rajesh Roy at rajesh.roy@wsj.com and Anant Vijay Kala at anant.kala@wsj.com

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