Hard luck for angels
Closing tax loopholes is challenging but necessary. Levying goods and services tax on betting platforms and revising India's 'angel tax' help prevent tax evasion.
Closing tax loopholes is never easy because it risks squeezing even those who don’t deserve to be. Levying goods and services tax on the full sums wagered on betting platforms, for example, may seem like overkill because the actual value being added by the service is only a fraction of that pool money. But since cash transfers are easy to track and e-casinos aren’t banks (worthy cash custodians), this is a pragmatic approach. Likewise for India’s ‘angel tax’, revised rules for which were notified on Tuesday. This tax applies if an unlisted firm issues shares to an investor (now non-resident too) priced above what’s deemed ‘fair market value’, suspiciously like a masked income receipt. Even with welcome leeway provided and a choice of formulas laid out to measure valuation gaps, including, vitally, for cases involving compulsorily convertible preference shares, imperfection is inevitable. What if a hot startup has a ‘secret sauce’ that even the most future-focused valuation tool can’t adequately capture but for which investors will pay top dollar? If so, it would be a real, if risky, bet. Since it could also be a tax dodge, tax kicks in. It’s unfair on the earnest lot, but that’s loophole-closing for you.
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