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BAT signal: New tax likely on certain imports to provide domestic players a level-playing field

BAT signal: New tax likely on certain imports to provide domestic players a level-playing field

Amid a policy push for Atmanirbhar Bharat, the government has revived a proposal to levy the so-called border adjustment tax (BAT) on certain imported goods – including steel and certain related products – to provide domestic manufacturers, who are subject to various embeded taxes, a level-playing field against overseas suppliers.

Alternatively, the government may consider a proposal to refund these taxes – including duties on electricity and fuel, clean energy cess, mandi tax, royalties and biodiversity fees — that are not subsumed by the goods and services tax (GST) to domestic manufacturers. While the Centre has approved a scheme, RoDTEP, to reimburse all such levies paid on inputs consumed in exports, it doesn’t cover goods sold in the domestic market.

Indian industry has been complaining about the plethora of local levies inflating their cost of production. This is because these are not subsumed by the GST and, therefore, input tax credit isn’t extended against such imposts. But imported goods, in most cases, aren’t loaded with such levies in their respective countries of origin, thus, enjoying price advantages vis-à-vis products manufactured in India.

A BAT will be designed to nullify this unfair edge to overseas suppliers and will be in sync with WTO norms, a senior government official told FE. It will require an amendment to the Customs Act.

Another official source said the steel ministry recently wrote to the finance ministry, seeking the imposition of the BAT. The commerce department had earlier suggested to the revenue department to consider such a levy on imported goods. If finally approved, the impost will be levied over and above the existing customs duties.

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