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  Rashtriya Sahara Roznama Sahara
Make the tax payer feel special
Last Updated : 06 Feb 2017 06:49:42 PM IST
(File photo)
(File photo)

Every year tax payers wait with baited breath hoping for a fair and better deal from a system which has been showing hardly any mercy on them. The tax-paying community feels like the modern day oppressed class which is bearing all the brunt silently. They have no voice but they are pivotal to the system which cannot do without them.

It is the duty of every citizen to pay tax. But, why is it that out of 125 crore people, only 76 lakh pay taxes? Such startling figures can either produce a feeling of elation or a pang of guilt for being too honest to end up as a fool.  For almost seven decades of independent rule, successive governments have been unable to implement a system that can make everyone to pay tax. Today, we have a system where in only miniscule percentage pays willingly. The rest which is a huge percentage is not paying anything. Such treatment can be termed as a case of abject discrimination. 

This year during budget presentation in the Parliament, the government came out with shocking figures. Among the 3.7 crore individuals who filed the tax returns in 2015-16, 99 lakh showed income below the exemption limit of Rs 2.5 lakh per year, 1.95 crore show income between Rs 2.5 to Rs 5 lakh, 52 lakh show income between Rs 5 to Rs 10 lakh and only 24 lakh people show income above Rs 10 lakh. Of the 76 lakh individual assesses who declare income above Rs 5 lakh, 56 lakh are in the salaried class. The number of people showing income more than Rs 50 lakh in the entire country is only 1.72 lakh.

Such eye-opening figures point to the bitter fact that some sort of parallel economy exists. It is for the first time perhaps, the government of the day has somewhat pointed at the gross tax evasion by a large proportion of earners. In the Parliament on February First, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley referred to this anomaly. He said, “We can contrast this with the fact that in the last five years, more than 1.25 crore cars have been sold, and number of Indian citizens who flew abroad, either for business or tourism, is 2 crore in the year 2015. From all these figures we can conclude that we are largely a tax non-compliant society. The predominance of cash in the economy makes it possible for the people to evade their taxes. When too many people evade taxes, the burden of their share falls on those who are honest and compliant.”

This public acknowledgement of the pain of a tax payer by the very Governing system has infused a hope. Every year around the Budget time and the tax calculation and assessment time, the salaried people are a harried lot. Come Budget, and the heart beats are pounding with the queries like what next, will taxes go up or down, what prices will be raised? And when it is the time for filing IT return, the feeling is one of anguish and despondency because the realization is very much there that ‘you are paying a part of your hard earned money to the government while as many others are not. You almost haggle with your CA for every small penny while as the “other people” get to hide and save.’

For almost seven decades the tax-payer community, especially those who pay honestly and punctually have been silently suffering.  Their honesty is a reflection of patriotism which has never been categorized as one. They pay silently for the welfare of the rest of the country. They pay for those living in huge houses, riding  Rs 5 or 10 crore cars, holidaying on foreign shores every six months, wearing all the top brands  and holding lands, houses or apartments in benami accounts. It is the tax payer who pays for the welfare schemes being run by the governments. It is again the tax payer who pays for the jet flying ministers and their comforts.

And what does the patriotic tax payer get in return, prices and ever increasing prices of everything, bad roads, bad public transport, ill-existing health facilities, no security, struggle for building a home, finding a job, getting admission in school/college. Despite all this the tax payer pays quietly.
This budget has given a bit of relief to the tax payer. But this is not enough. Present day government has acknowledged their contribution but promised nothing. The government has been finding and devising means to make people pay more taxes. Advertisements worth hundreds of crores of Rupees are spent every year. But, this has failed to move the non tax evaders.

Here is a proposition for the government to think and devise other mechanisms to make the non payers to pay. The government can give a special status to the tax payers. Special Status could mean providing them social security, especially in their old days when finances are limited and health budgets inflating. The special status could also include public recognition by providing them a special Identity card which can elevate them to a privileged status for seeking public services including preference in redressal of grievances. An elevated and recognized class in the society can certainly help bring a change in the mindset of the tax evaders. It is high time that the government consider ways of providing relief to this silent patriotic community otherwise the feeling comes to the fore is ‘how to evade?’ 


Deepika Bhan
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