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I’m Confused...

Wouldn’t a more robust indirect taxes regime easily compensate for this loss and bring concealed income out in the open?

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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It’s that time of year again. Expectations of taxation relief among the salaried class from the forthcoming Budget are high. But wait, I am confused... why must we pay income tax at all? In a survey done last year, roughly speaking, Indian taxpayers took home just 55 per cent of their wages! Of course, in Saudi Arabia the take home wage is 97 per cent (while leaving all civil liberties behind … and frankly I would happily lose much than just 3 per cent to get those back!). Think about this ... of India’s tax-paying base of 3.5 crore people, only 4 lakh people account for 63 per cent of tax collected in the economy. Yet, in 2013-14 the government was expected to collect Rs 2.42 lakh crore as income tax, which was to be 21 per cent of total tax revenue.

Wouldn’t a more robust indirect taxes regime easily compensate for this loss and bring concealed income out in the open? I am confused … So here’s my suggestion to Arun Jaitley … why not redeploy the entire Income Tax Department to support implementation of the Goods and Services Tax plan? With zero income tax the concomitant inflation of GST will matter little to the Indian tax-payer … unless the country doesn’t believe tax-payers are a sufficiently large vote bank. And that’s why I am confused … do we tax-payers count for nothing in the national voice? Or is the fear that eradication of black money will make the game of politics dry up?

Actually, it’s not just taxes … I’m confused about why we vote at all. Take the case of the Delhi government’s experiment with odd and even number plates to control pollution in Delhi. Yes, it has reduced traffic congestion. And yes, it has also created huge inconvenience to commuters. The only beneficiaries seem to be the taxi and auto-rickshaw wallahs who are hugely over-charging commuters.

The government seems to be at loggerheads with independent experts who claim pollution levels have not gone down and may actually have gone up a wee bit in this period. Surely, the only winners, the taxi and autowallahs can’t be the only vote bank for the Delhi government (as also the many exclusions like two-wheelers that are proven to be more polluting than cars). Yet again, what about us car owning tax-payers? The irony is that while contemplating this inconvenience to regular taxpayers, in the dying hours of 2015, Delhi’s elected representatives voted themselves a 400 per cent wage hike … all of which comes out of taxpayers’ pockets just so that they “don’t have to look for alternate sources of income to provide a cup of tea to visitors”. Expensive cups of tea, wouldn’t you say? And what did we get in return? Democracy today is no longer the voice of the majority. It seems to have been hijacked by the most vocal minority. But, isn’t this a recipe for anarchy? I am confused …

To confound this confusion is the fact that every controversial decision of any elected government is sure to be referred to a court of law for final adjudication. If by implication, India’s creaking judiciary is indeed the final decision maker, why on earth are we wasting time with elections? Let’s just enhance the intake of IAS and related services officers (who anyway run the country) and ensure we expand the judiciary 400 times. That way we the ordinary taxpayers will at least get justice if not also good governance. I am confused …

Finally, to say the Pathankot terrorist act was a fallout of the new “dropping in for tea” diplomacy would be an over simplification. That this kind of a relationship is desirable is true. I only wish it were the result of consistent and persistent diplomacy. I am confused why our Indian ambassadors require bullet-proof vehicles in three countries … Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Am I the only one who wonders why we can’t be good neighbours? I am confused.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Deepak Mukarji

Deepak Mukarji, author, stage personality and management professional, has spent over 30 years creating the space for business to grow in India for various MNC brands. His last assignment was as Director and Country Head of Corporate Affairs for the Shell Group of Companies in India

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