Cesses in the Indian tax regime: a historical analysis

Kotha, Ashrita (2017) Cesses in the Indian tax regime: a historical analysis. In: Studies in the History of Tax Law. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, pp. 483-512. ISBN 9781509908370

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The Constitution of India is quasi federal, a feature which is also apparent from the provisions regulating distribution of revenues between the union government and the various state governments. India’s ‘co-operative federalist’ fiscal structure has historically empowered the union and state governments to raise revenue by levying taxes, fees, cesses, surcharges, etc. In the schedule to the Indian Constitution which delineates the legislative competence of the respective governments to impose taxes and fees, there is no mention of cess. That may be owing to the fact that a cess, as clarified by judicial precedents, is either a tax or a fee depending on the specific facts. The unique feature of a cess though is that it raises revenue for an earmarked purpose. By virtue of a constitutional amendment in the year 2000 union cesses are not required to be shared with state governments. Recent enquiries into the usage of funds collected under the head of cess reveal a lack of accountability. This has resulted in the Fourteenth Finance Commission cautioning against the frequent usage of cesses. Even so, the union government has recently announced three new cesses with a proposal to introduce another one post the introduction of the goods and services tax. This is an opportune time to undertake a study into the history of cesses in the Indian context. The following questions emerge for study: What does the Indian Constitution say about cesses? How is a cess different from a tax and fee? Why have successive governments imposed cesses? In the wake of the criticism that cesses have been met with, what does history reveal? Are there any lessons to be learnt?

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Cess | Earmarked tax | India
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Economics, Econometrics and Finance > Economics
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Subhajit Bhattacharjee
Date Deposited: 01 May 2022 12:39
Last Modified: 01 May 2022 12:39
Official URL: https://www.bloomsbury.com/au/studies-in-the-histo...
URI: https://pure.jgu.edu.in/id/eprint/2778


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