MUMBAI: India Inc could get a breather as the finance ministry may take a benevolent view of its pleas to abolish the Income Computation and Disclosure Standards (ICDS), which came into effect from the financial year commencing April 1, 2016 (FY2016-17). Budget 2017 is also likely to indicate a road map for transition towards a new accounting year -January to December -instead of the currently prevailing 12-month period starting on April1of one year and ending on March 31of the next calendar year.
ICDS, which are accounting standards for income tax (I-T) purposes, resulted in a greater administrative burden and also advanced recognition of income of a subsequent year in the current year, consequently resulting in a higher I-T outflow.
The Justice Easwar-led committee on I-T simplification, in its report released in 2016, had pointed out its drawbacks. It said that multiple accounting methods -one for the books of accounts (under the Companies Act) and the other for tax purposes (ICDS) create confusion, interpretation issues, and additional compliance burden, which may outweigh any gains to be obtained. It had called for a further study of implications.
Ameet Patel, chairperson of the taxation committee at Bombay Chartered Accountants' Society (BCAS), says, "ICDS is not in line with fundamental principles of accounting and taxation, viz: prudence, materiality and accounting of foreseeable losses. In several situations, this results in advancing the recognition of income or deferring recognition of expenses or losses -both of which have a potential tax impact (see table)." Valuation of securities held as stock-in-trade, import of goods used in manufacturing or of forex hedges also result in income-recognition challenges for India Inc. BCAS is one of the many associations that has represented to the government for scrapping of ICDS.
For the purpose of computing advance taxes and also for filing of I-T returns, taxpayers have to adopt ICDS. The due dates of the returns for the FY2016-17 -the first year of application of ICDS -fall in the second half of 2017 onward.
These standards apply to all taxpayers who follow the mercantile system of accounting for computing income under the heads `Profits and gains from business and profession' or `Income from other sources'. India Inc is required to mandatory follow the mercantile system.Further, individuals and Hindu Undivided Families are exempt from application of ICDS if they do not fall in the category of those who have to get their accounts audited for tax purposes. Taxpayers are already facing challenges relating to adoption of ICDS and its abolition will be welcomed.
"Indian Accounting Standards (IndAS), introduced by the ministry of corporate affairs, are already in place for larger listed companies. From April 1, 2017, their ambit will be wider. IndAS is closely aligned to international accounting standards and already serves the objective of real-time disclosure and accounting of income.Thus, there is no plausible reason for introduction of ICDS and adding to the administrative burden of India Inc," says Sudhir Kapadia, tax leader at EY India.
A committee led by former chief economic adviser Shankar Acharya recently submitted its report to the finance ministry , advocating adoption of the calendar year as the accounting year. "With introduction of goods and service tax (GST) later on in the year, it is possible that the new accounting year will come into being from January 2019 and not January 2018, to enable for a cohesive transition," said a source close to the development.