Skill games industry in India urges Finance Minister to lower withholding tax

10 February 2016


Good news for poker in India.

Several companies of the booming online skill games industry have made a representation to the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to consider relaxing Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) norms applicable to the games of skill websites in light of the Easwar committee report on simplification of income tax procedures and hiking thresholds for TDS deductions.

The draft of the Easwar committee report has advocated increasing the TDS threshold before for withholding income tax by companies to Rs. 15,000/- from the current threshold of Rs. 10,000/-

PK Jain, head of operations of Sachar Gaming Pvt. Ltd.,  a company which offers online rummy and poker through its website said, “We have made a representation to the Finance Ministry and petitioned Mr. Arun Jaitley to increase the TDS threshold for winnings from games of skill, which are unfairly bracketed in the same category as winnings from lotteries, gambling, casinos  etc.
Skill games like poker and rummy do not amount to gambling and there are several judgments of courts to support it. An unreasonably low threshold for deducting TDS and high income tax of 30% on winnings, without allowing any deductions or setoffs does not bode well for the industry.”

Jain adds that he has suggested that the Finance Minister should consider hiking the TDS threshold to Rs. 50,000/- and the witholding tax should be reduced to 10 or 15%. Jain also states that he has submitted recommendations to the Easwar committee as well.

Says Jay Sayta, lawyer and founder of India’s only website tracking updates in the gaming industry, “The income tax and TDS rates for the skill games and gaming industry are unreasonably high and perhaps the highest in the world. Most other countries have a tax rate of 10-15% on such incomes and no concept of withholding tax.”

Sayta added, “The United Kingdom for instance has no income tax on gaming winnings. Although the Easwar committee report has recommended hiking the TDS threshold on gaming winnings by Rs. 5,000/-, it is not enough. Mr. Jaitley should consider including a higher TDS threshold and lower income tax rate for winnings from games of skill in the upcoming budget to bring it in sync with global standards and changing times.”

This are certainly good news for poker in India.


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