Experts and industry leaders in the AVGC (animation, visual effects, gaming and comic) industry praised the Union Budget 2023-24 as beneficial for the industry. Measures such as the clarification in the applicability of TDS only on the “net winnings”, and that too at the end of the year or during withdrawal, were particularly hailed as significant for the industry.
Bharat Patel, Chairman and Director, Yudiz Solutions Ltd, said, “Considering how fast India’s economy is adapting to modern technologies, the budget surely emphasizes the ‘Amrit Kaal’, mentioned by our Hon’ble Prime Minister. We at Yudiz are particularly thrilled that the government has recognised the potential of the gaming industry, and has taken steps in this budget towards fairer recognition of incomes from gaming. It is a positive move that the government has clarified that taxes will be applicable on net winnings, and not on aggregate winnings. We’re also grateful that Hon’ble Finance Minister FM Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the government will issue more clarity on the taxability of online gaming, and ease the tax burden. Proactive measures such as these can unleash the brimming gaming potential of India.”
Jay Sayta, technology and gaming lawyer, struck a more cautious note and said that while the measures are appreciated, more clarity was awaited on the calculation of net winnings.
“The budget and Finance Bill, 2023 has provided important clarity on applicability of TDS for winnings on online gaming platforms that the industry was seeking. It is a welcome step that the concept of ‘net winnings’ has been recognised in the Income Tax Act for online games and TDS only has to be deducted at the end of the financial year or at the time of withdrawal from the user account,” said Mr. Sayta. “However, the manner in which net winnings are supposed to be calculated and the set-offs that may be permitted before calculating such net winnings are left to be clarified by the CBDT through rules/guidelines. Hopefully, the CBDT will soon provide guidance on the manner in which net winnings have to be calculated.”
The new rules also bring parity between online gaming avenues such as apps and offline gaming avenues such as casinos.
Other measures such as the relief in customs duty for import of critical smartphone parts such as lenses and batteries will help stabilize smartphone prices, and help more Indians access mobile technologies and games. The raising of the minimum taxable slab from Rs.5 lakh to Rs.7 lakh under the new tax regime will also indirectly help the industry, as it increases disposable income available to consumers.
Experts also praised the overall support given to the startups in the form of the proposed National Data Governance Policy which will help start-ups access anonymised data, and providing the benefit of carry forward of losses on change of shareholding of start-ups from seven years of incorporation to ten years.
Suraj Chokani, Founder, Ability Games, said, “It is an excellent budget from every aspect, from our point of view. The FM spoke about 7 major thrusts in the budget, calling it Saptrishi, out of which the 6th pointer spoke about new-age technologies. Recognizing such new age tech in itself is a big boost to the industry as a whole and shows the forward looking character of the Government. Focus on MSME and Startups is also a welcome step from our perspective and will help us go a long way. Overall we are very happy and satisfied with such an inclusive Budget.”
Globally, the AVGC industry was valued at $168 billion in 2021, while the Indian AVGC industry was valued at $1.1 billion, a 28% growth over the previous year, according a report by the AVGC task force. The sector has plenty of room for growth, and the government’s recent decisions such as the proposed self-regulation of the online gaming industry and appointment of MeITY as the nodal Ministry will help boost the sector’s growth.