Rajat Sharma

Jaitley’s budget speech raises questions on tax evaders

This year’s Union Budget was pathbreaking on several counts – one, it was presented a month before the due date, two, Railway Budget was merged in Union Budget, and three, the Finance Minister did not mention each and every item on which duties were being reduced or raised. Arun Jaitley confined himself to broad policy decisions. But the facts that he mentioned about tax evaders in India were revealing. Jaitley said, Out of 130 crore Indians, only 3.7 crore individuals filed income tax returns, 99 lakh people showed their income below the exemption limit of Rs 2.5 lakh, meaning a little over 2.5 crore people pay income tax. Out of these, 1.95 crore people show income between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, 52 lakh show income between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, and only 24 lakh people show income above Rs 10 lakh. Out of the 76 lakh individuals who declared income above Rs 5 lakh, 56 lakhs were in the salaried class. The number of people showing income more than Rs 50 lakh in the entire country is only 1.72 lakh. He contrasted this with the fact that in the last five years, more than 1.25 crore cars were sold in India, and more than 2 crore people flew abroad in 2015. These facts will surely make the people of India think about tax evaders. But to expect that tax evaders will disclose their real income and pay tax, is presently a tall order. Because most of the people feel once they file returns they will be questioned by income tax. Now the Finance Minister has promised transparency in assessment of Income tax , it will take a while for public to accept it.

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