This is the fourth post in the our new blog series on the Budget 2018. Following our earlier posts (here, here, here and here) on the impact of the Budget on the Direct, Indirect Tax regimes and the Healthcare sector, this piece focuses on the amendments to the advance ruling system under the Customs Act. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we have enjoyed putting this together.
The Finance Act, 2017 consolidated the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR) for customs law and direct taxes, to promote the ease of doing business in India. In continuation to that, as well as the introduction of the Goods and Service Tax (GST), the Union Budget 2018 (Budget) proposes various amendments to the Customs Act, 1962 (Customs Act). Such amendments not only include enhancement in the scope of the advance ruling system in India, but also entail revamping of its procedural aspects.
Scope of AAR
The regulatory environment is proposed to be made more conducive by enlarging the ambit of the eligible persons entitled to make an application for advance ruling. Presently, only a joint venture in India, a non-resident person setting up a joint venture in collaboration with a non-resident/ resident, a wholly owned subsidiary of a foreign company, or certain other notified persons (i.e. PSU’s, resident companies and firms, residents importing from Singapore) can apply for an advance ruling.
The amendments proposed in the Budget would allow any person holding a valid Importer-Exporter Code, exporting any goods to India, or having a justifiable cause to the satisfaction of the AAR, to make an application for advance ruling. The said proposal grants wide discretionary powers to the proposed AAR to be constituted under the Customs Act (Customs AAR) to entertain any applicant having a justifiable cause to its satisfaction. This potentially extends the said facility to all persons, including foreign individuals, looking to independently set up business in India or export to India. Additionally, in line with the intent of ensuring the ease of doing of business in India, the proposals include amendments to allow foreign persons intending to export goods to India to be represented by an authorised Indian resident for advance ruling purposes. Interestingly, it is also proposed that the ambit of Customs law be expanded to include persons out of India. This would facilitate the effective regulation of import-export transactions undertaken by foreign suppliers.