Taxation
Tax : Twitter Handle, App from I-T Dept.
The income-tax department has launched its official handle on the micro-blogging website, Twitter. The handle “incometaxindia_” is aimed at keeping taxpayers and other users updated. “Follow us to stay updated on the latest taxpayer services,” the first tweet by the department said. It added that users can “get access to online taxpayer services such as filing income tax return, pay taxes, view tax credit, etc. at https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in.”
 
The income-tax department is developing a mobile app which can be used by users for filing their tax returns, a top finance ministry official told news agencies. “We are developing a mobile app which can be used by users for filing their income tax returns. There are some security related issues, which we will resolve soon,” Anita Kapoor, chairperson of CBDT, said in New Delhi.
 
Online filing of tax returns has caught up in a big way in recent years. Filings through mobile apps can make it even easier for taxpayers.

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Pulse Beat
The Mediterranean Diet Myth
 
This myth—of Mediterranean diet being the cause of longevity—was doing the rounds in medical circles for decades and many people still believe it blindly. Although the diet in that region is healthier than in the rest of the Western world, it cannot be the sole factor for their longevity. A recent in-depth study, looking at the whole picture, gives a different story about their lifestyle which might be the prime mover. 
 
In general, people there are happier and have less worry. They love life and have better social interactions. Even while eating, they eat with friends and family—and enjoy their meals. Junk food and stale, preserved foods are not on their menu. Olive oil could be a better oil for cooking; but it is not as good as coconut oil. They eat slowly and take time to enjoy their food. They have more outdoor life in the sun and walk much more than the other Westerners. Smoking is much less. Although they do not have a regimented exercise schedule, they walk all day and use vehicles much less.
 
Now that this study gives us a better perspective, the myth could be set to rest. Another important aspect of this study is that this is not funded by any vested interests. This is a public funded study.
 
Toilet Seat and Resulting Infections
 
As much as 85% of women interviewed said that they never sat on the toilet seat to micturate but crouched on it. Such is the fear! Toilet seats are not bad as people think they are. It is very difficult to catch any disease from the seat if one has intact skin of the buttock and thighs. Many studies have shown that door handles and cell-phones have more bugs than toilet seats.
Washing hands after using the toilet seat thoroughly with soap and water should protect one from any danger. Many germs find it hard to survive on a polished seat for long. 
 
The Placebo Effect
 
There seems to be a lot of interest in the placebo effect in medical research. It is now found that drug companies—after spending lot of money on a new drug molecule—find it hard to get the molecule passed as better than a dummy pill (placebo). The more the common man gets to know about drugs, the more he falls prey to this placebo trap! No one has been able to explain why this occurs. What we do know, though, is that the human mind has a very powerful effect on the human body, as both of them are but two faces of the same coin. As I have been always saying, even ‘major’ surgical operations, where ‘heroic’ surgeons boast that the patient got better because of them, the placebo effect has been shown as having an equally good effect. This is evident even in the so-called coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), also known as heart bypass surgery!
 
I look forward to the day, not far away from today, where the patient will be able to use his/her own mind to direct the body to correct itself, an effect so eloquently described in ancient Ayurveda and Indian scriptures. There was a discussion on BBC about the placebo effect, recently. That goes to show that this new finding seems to agitate conventional researchers who sought to prove that it is their chemical potions and surgical methods that keep mankind going on this planet. 
 
I could find one reference to this in Western literature in a book by a respected NIH (National Institute of Health, US) researcher, Candace Pert, in her book Molecules of Emotion. Oliver Wendell Holmes, a Harvard graduate, once wrote that the most potent drug that mankind can ever discover is: two kind words of a human doctor. How very true!

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'Absence of policy-holders' representative in IRDAI panel unfair'
The absence of any representative to voice the views of motor insurance policy-holders in a committee set up by IRDAI to bring clarity and transparency in payouts made to auto dealers is unfair, say industry experts.
 
The government-owned non-life insurer United India Insurance Company Ltd proposes to appeal against allegations by the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence that Cenvat credit on policies sold by car dealers was wrongly claimed, said a top company official.
 
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) recently announced formation of a seven-member committee to bring clarity and transparency in payouts made to automobile dealers by insurers for getting motor insurance business.
 
Apart from officers of IRDAI, the committee comprises representatives of private and public sector non-life insurance companies and a representative of an insurance broking entity belonging to car makers Maurti and Hyundai.
 
"While acknowledging that the primary aim of creating IRDAI is 'protection of the interests of policy-holders', having representatives of motor policy-holders on the committee would have ensured some fairness," K.K. Srinivasan, a former IRDAI member, told IANS.
 
"Every year, the motor insurance premium goes up and policy-holders are made to pay more. We don't have any voice anywhere," V. Nitya, a two-wheeler owner, told IANS.
 
"The wisdom of forming such a committee at this juncture when another limb of the government -- the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence wing -- is investigating the matter is questionable," Srinivasan added.
 
However, some industry officials do not agree that the committee is a fallout of the investigation by the tax officials and to legalise the excess payments made to car dealers when it is not able to penalise the parties involved.
 
The Chennai Zonal Unit of the Finance Ministry's Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence in August 2015 had issued summons to 16 general insurers for wrongly availing Cenvat credit to the tune of Rs.1,200-2,500 crore on bogus invoices of car dealers.
 
Industry officials said such an investigation is being done in other regions as well by the central excise tax intelligence wing.
 
According to the Finance Ministry, car makers enter into pacts with specific insurance companies.
 
Their car dealers are told to sell policies of only the preferred insurers. This fetches a commission of 2-3 percent for manufacturers and 15-45 percent for the dealers.
 
The tax officials alleged that there were several other discrepancies as well. First, the maximum brokerage or commission that is payable on motor insurance policies is capped at 10 percent. To circumvent that, insurers ask the dealers to inflate invoices to show they have provided services like advertisement and computer renting.
 
"Such invoices are not allowed under Cenvat Credit Rules, 2004, and the Service Tax Rules, 1994, to claim the credit," a senior official involved in the matter said, requesting anonymity.
 
"As these services were never provided by the car dealers, their invoices are not permissible documents under the Cenvat Credit Rules, 2004, and the Service Tax Rules, 1994, for availing Cenvat credit by the insurance companies. These facts have been confirmed by the employees of the insurance companies and the car dealers in their voluntary statements," the Finance Ministry said in August.
 
"The dealers do provide us a variety of services, like issuance of policies per se and collecting the survey reports. All these involve some charges," a senior official of one of the 16 insurance companies being probed told IANS, preferring anonymity.
 
He said the expenses claimed by the car dealers were reimbursed against their service tax registration.
 
"We go by the dealer's statement. There is no web portal where insurers can check if the dealer has remitted the service tax," he said.
 
According to him, all the car makers have signed up agreements with one or the other general insurance company.
 
"The annual premium from Maruti car dealers alone will be around Rs.3,000 crore. The business from auto dealers is a big segment," a senior industry official told IANS.
 
According to a senior official of the United India Insurance Company, business from automobile dealer channel is profitable.
 
"While there are 'synergies' in motor dealers functioning as insurance intermediaries, there are 'conflicts of interest' also. Very often 'synergy' and 'conflicts of interest' are two sides of the same coin," Srinivasan said.
 
While motor dealers earn commission (for procuring insurance business) as insurance intermediaries from insurance companies, they also receive claim payments on behalf of policy holders for accident repairs done to insured cars. The stakes are thus very substantial, according to Srinivasan.
 
He said the formation of a committee by IRDAI to study payouts by insurers to motor dealers might be indicative of the perception that there were issues in the payouts.
 
"We have received a show cause notice. We will be appealing against the issuance of the notice to us. The amount involved is not much in our case; it is around Rs.11 crore," Milind Kharat, chairman-cum-managing director of United India Insurance, told IANS.
 
He said investigation by the tax officials and the setting up of the committee by IRDAI were not inter-linked.
 
A senior official in a government-owned company said the IRDAI committee might recommend sub-limits on the payments made to automobile dealiers under various heads.
 
Disclaimer:  Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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