India do have world’s most extensive tax administration system : Wolrd Bank Report

A World Bank report rates the Indian Ocean islands as the easiest place on the planet for a company to pay taxes while India with 9,000 pages of primary tax law and the dubious honour of the world’s most extensive tax administration system and ranked with a low rating of 134.
The World Bank’s Doing Business Project assesses how many obstacles the tax system puts in the way of a business in every one of 175 nations on earth.

The aim is to encourage faster administration, leading to more profitable business activities and hence economic growth. Reduced paperwork and lower taxes are the hallmark of wealthier nations, the World Bank notes.

The report says that an Indian medium-size company should pay a total tax rate on the profit of 81.1% and should take 264 hours of administrative burden with 59 steps. Even though such a high rated tax system is in place, the tax revenue receipts have remained below 10 per cent of GDP of Indian economy due to corruption of the civil service regime.

To enforce a commercial contracts in India is not an easy job.It takes 56 procedures and 1420 days and will cover a cost of 35.7% of the debt!

The time to resolve bankruptcies in India take 10 years but getting credit for companies in India is relatively easy. Import and export procedures in India is a very hard process which is rated at 139.

In India,the number of steps entrepreneurs can expect to go through to launch of a new business is 11 and it takes on average 35 days, and the cost required as a percentage of gross national income (GNI) per capita is 73.7%.

In India, dealing with licences take 270 days and the number of procedures will be 20. It requires an amount closer to of 606 % GNI (Income Per Captia).

Paper avalanche

Corrupt practices are most likely to be found in the highest taxing nations, as entrepreneurs find themselves forced to bribe officials in order to cut through red tape or just to operate outside of the official economy altogether.

The bureaucrats of some nations are in love with tax rules. The top 20 nations in terms of GDP have widely differing amounts of tax law. Within this group, the report ranks the UK as the second-worst offender in terms of the number of pages of primary tax legislation.

The UK has 8,300 pages of tax rules, compared with 1,300 in France and 1,700 in Germany.

This comes as no surprise to the World Bank. “The complexity of the systems in rich nations is astounding,” Ms McLiesh said.

Middle Eastern states such as the United Arab Emirates and Asian locations like Hong Kong come in the top five of easy tax locations.

Latin America and Africa impose the highest costs on complying with regulations and score poorly. The place on earth with the most difficult tax regime is the former Soviet republic of Belarus.

Tax perspective

The picture is not a simple one of Western economies beating the developing world.

The Project’s calculation of Total Tax Rate (TTR) looks beyond normal percentages of tax to include the cost incurred in dealing with the local tax regime.

The Maldives is the winner in this table, with an ultra-low TTR of 9.3%. There are some surprising entries. Cambodia has the number eight slot, beating Switzerland with a TTR of 22.3%.

The report, compiled by the World Bank and business advisors PricewaterhouseCoopers, employs an imaginary flowerpot manufacturer with 50 staff as its guinea-pig for assessing the TTR in each country.

Caralee McLiesh, a World Bank economist who is one of the report’s authors, points out that most people have a false impression of the way tax affects business.

“People think of business tax in terms of a corporate income tax,” she told BBC News, “but there are a whole range of labour tariffs and municipal rates that add to the bill.”

The World Bank takes account of the amount of time it takes its mythical flowerpot maker to deal with the bureaucracies in every country to measure TTR.

Excessive red tape can create a TTR that seems astronomical. Gambia scores worst of all, with a TTR of 291.4%.

The report is not anti-taxation, its authors point out. “Of course there is a need for taxes,” says Ms McLiesh, “but they should not deter businesses from paying and complying because of too much complexity.”

Denmark and the Netherlands have tried to point the way ahead for Europe, with moves to simplify business administration via a standardised business tax model that they are pushing the European Union to adopt.

One of the report’s observations is that businesses are more willing to pay taxes if they see the money raised being used to improve public services.

However, the developing world has a bad habit of raising taxes without producing a corresponding improvement in business infrastructure.

Online relief from Egypt

This aspect of tax administration comes with a warning that a bewildering tax regime is counter-productive. “When tax legislation becomes too voluminous, compliance drops more through ignorance than deliberate evasion,” the report states.

The internet is riding to the rescue in many countries, with online tax return filing seen as a boon for business. Allied to a policy of cutting out exemptions for large businesses or specific rules for particular sectors, the web has a real role in simplifying tax law.

The report holds up Egypt as an example of how to eliminate complexity. Inspired by the example of flat-tax adherents such as Estonia, it went for radical change.

In 2005, Egypt introduced a 20% flat rate corporate income tax, abolishing 32% or 40% sector-specific rates. A total of 3,000 detailed tax rules relating to certain activities and services were slashed. And all businesses could file electronically.

The result of tax reform in Egypt was startling. The number of businesses paying tax jumped to two million in 2005, double the 2004 total.

Report is here

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