Stark tax truths
Apropos of the news report “Declare hidden income by Sept 30: PM” (FE, June 27), a stern message from the prime minister himself speaks volumes about the seriousness of the government to tame tax evasion. The latest Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) may yet turn out to be another Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS), but the intent behind it can’t be doubted. This specifically provides that no questions will be asked about the source of the undisclosed income or assets if the declaration is made voluntarily under the scheme that began this month (with a validity of four months, upto September 30). Evaders who don’t use the opportunity will have to face prosecution. It is quite interesting to hear the PM say, “Old habits die hard, despite the fact that it is quite easier now for taxpayers to connect with the government.” Really? One wishes that he had also talked about his government’s fancy for various cesses at every possible opportunity in the name of creating a strong and vibrant India by fixing some ambitious targets concerning the economy. The PM’s pet project Swacch Bharat thus is gaining prominence in any discourse on policies these days. The common man, on the other hand, is feeling the heat of these cesses; more so, with a high-tax burden and battling inflation as well. Has the PM or the overzealous finance minister ever taken time to ponder over the implications of the service tax, VAT and what not on the aam aadmi? Unfortunately, the honest taxpayers (including senior citizens) find themselves in a Catch-22 situation as they have now left with no safe option to fall back upon after the FM drastically reduced the rate of interest on government-sponsored small savings schemes run by the post offices and the banks in the county. The moot question is: Why has the government so miserably failed to ensure that there is no incentive at all to evade taxes? Why is there no truly rationalised tax structure in our country? Why is the taxman unable to track down the willful tax-defaulters, even in this digital era? Why it is still groping in the dark on the matter? The PM had openly promised “achhe din” for the common man during the campaigns? But expecting such miracles to take place here would be nothing more than day dreaming. After all, promises are usually meant to be broken. Incidentally, how much income tax do our honourable ministers, MPs and MLAs pay each year? Will the government take the trouble to publish a White Paper enumerating the relevant details ? Perhaps, this move may also come in handy to persuade tax evaders to willingly come forward in the larger national interest.
Kumar Gupt, Ghaziabad
Apropos of the edit “Late Research” (FE, June 27), the Leave-voters’ regret is akin to that of buyers’ dilemma. On the one hand, they have politicans like Nigel Farage telling the all sorts of lies. On the other, the ruling elites have been able to alienate the masses completely. So, cheers to Brexit.
Sumona Pal, Kolkata