|Parthasarathi Shome was also in the Global Tax 50 2013 and 2012|
A regular fixture in the Global Tax 50, Partho Shome had another action-packed year in 2015.
As chairman of India's Tax Administration Reform Commission (TARC), Shome produced a series of reports for the Ministry of Finance throughout 2014 and 2015, highlighting key recommendations for the Indian government, which has been actively trying to alter its perception among international investors. His recommendations included: adopting increased customer focus in tax administration; combining India's direct and indirect tax administrations; and introducing impact assessment and revenue forecasting.
"The whole point of TARC was to benchmark India against the best practices globally," says Shome, "and then look at the gaps and make recommendations from that point of view, with the objective of enhanced customer focus, as well as the assignment of human resources of the tax administration in a much more rational manner than prevails today."
Shome told ITR that multinational companies had become "exhausted" with India's unpredictable tax system but gave lawmakers and other officials a positive endorsement, saying they are committed to change.
While the moves to encourage investment and improve tax administration have been driven by Arun Jaitley, Shome is the man who successive finance ministers have turned to for advice and recommendations.
An undisputed authority on all-things-tax – having held a wide range of roles including chief economist at the UK tax authority, HMRC, and chief of the IMF's tax policy division on top of his government advisory and committee chairmanship roles – Shome once again exerted his influence during 2015. On top of his TARC commitments, August saw Shome appointed to lead India's International Tax Research and Analysis Foundation (ITRAF).
The ITRAF was launched as a non-lobbying, apolitical think-tank which will provide research and other services to supplement government efforts to implement effective tax policy.
Having somebody as in-tune with the sentiments of the international business community as Shome will certainly serve the government well as more progress is made towards increasing foreign direct investment into India in 2016.
"As India embarks on its exciting phase of growth, ease of doing business is going to be a huge differentiator to attract investments," says Shome. "Uncertainty in the tax environment is a potential deterrent for global companies planning to invest in India. Good tax policies are backed by research and analysis."
At the end of January, Jaitley confirmed that "the Shome Committee report has given several recommendations" and that he was at "a very advanced stage" of looking into them. Taxpayers now await February's Budget, when it will become clear which of Shome's recommendations are being adopted.
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