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WHAT’S COOKING IN SITHA’S RASOI?
With around 400 days to go for the Lok Sabha, this is, in all probability, the last full fledged budget by Nirmala Sitharaman before the General elections and as usual the common man who loves to hope against hope is again hoping to get a slice of the moon in their own terms! The common man who is always on the receiving end as far major expenditure is concerned, hopes that the government will spell something for the working class on the last budget before the big polls It may be noted that there have been no changes in the Income-Tax rates since 2017- 2018 and despite the introduction of the new tax regime in 2020-21, most people still go in for the old tax regime. This is one sector, where the working class will expect some relief and a big announcement… In this article, we shall discuss the existing scenario and the expectations vis-à-vis.
RATIONALISE TDS AND PRODUCE MORE BUYERS
By increasing the I-T slab, the working class must be allowed to save money and thus the budget must ensure that people have the capacity to buy in order to contribute to the economy of the nation and keep it moving. GST is a subject that affects one and all indirectly. Thus, the rates of commodities commonly used by the common man should be reduced. The provisions of the Capital Gains and Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) should be rationalised.
TAX VERSUS RELAX
According to the current regime, if one’s taxable income is up to Ra 5 lakh per annum, he or she doesn’t come under the tax purview. And in the scenario, where the taxable income goes above Rs 5 lakh, 20% rate is applicable. This is a huge matter of concern for those who fall under the tax bracket of `10 lakh per annum. Consider this, if the working class intends to go for the new tax regime, it would mean that they give up the deductions available under Section 80 C, exemptions like HRA and others. This will not only increase the taxable income and thus the amount of tax payable too. So, people are expecting a decrease in these tax rates.
CHANGE NEEDED IN NEW I-T REGIME
It may be recalled that the new tax regime was brought into practice in 2020-21, as per reports, only 18.75% Indians had opted for this regime while around 60% of the taxpayers chose to opt for the regular tax structure. In order to make the new I-T regime popular, Sitharaman should be concentrating in this sector and include some changes and give more sops to the working class in this regard.
WIDER SCOPE FOR 80C
It is now time to widen the scope of the popular weapon for the working class to “earn” some money. Section 80 C offers people deductions on several fiscal instruments like the LIC, ELSS, PPF etc and thus the number of people availing this facility is growing by the minute. However, the limit of Rs 1.5 lakh in 80C has not changed for years. This is one sphere where the working class would expect Sitharaman to consider. Talking of standard deduction, the working class is also expecting a hike in this sector which is currently pegged at Rs 50,000.
TAX FILING EASE AND FASTER TAX REFUND
In 2022, it took almost two to three months for the tax refunds to actually happen, which had sent taxpayers into a tizzy. The CBDT, however, has been considering and has already proposed a single ITR form for all while ITR-1 and ITR- 4 will remain. This may reduce the processing time of the tax return filings and also assist taxpayers to receive refunds faster.
SOPS FOR THOSE IN WFH SECTOR
Since the pandemic and widely after that, working from home has become a norm in today’s parlance and it is now the new normal. While if someone is on WFH he/she doesn’t need to travel to the workplace it saves a great deal on the travelling for the working class, but when it comes to other expenses like setting up a working station, dedicated wi-fi zone and proper machines to keep people linked with their offices. To maintain this, part of which is monthly expenses like the electricity and the internet cost, for those involved in WFH, they hope to hear about some goodies from the finance minister of the D-day.
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY THE AUTHOR ARE PERSONAL
ROBIN ROY The writer is Senior Journalist and former Managing Editor, First India