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Budget 2011 and the dilemmas of a taxpayer

Last updated on: March 1, 2011 09:35 IST

Budget 2011 and the dilemmas of a taxpayer

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Jaya Ramanathan

Come the last day of February and for over two hours every TV news and knowledge channel offers a different soap opera, the finance minister presenting the annual Budget in Parliament.

Each year I sporadically watch the show wondering whether somewhere somehow what the minister rolls out as sops have any relevance to me or whether he even has any dramatic plans to tackle the gargantuan financial frauds that is sweeping the country and making headlines every other morning, since I strongly believe that if the government does indeed have the mindset and launches the machinery to severely punish white collar criminals, my life will be easier albeit in a convoluted manner.

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Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee (C) arrives at the Parliament to present the 2011-12 Union budget in New Delhi.
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
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For instance the income commissioner's office will not send me a notice for Rs 840 tax due for assessment year 2006-2007 three years down the line, which in fact has been paid and receipted, but it has to be taken to the I-T office, the lowly clerk convinced that I am not a defaulter.

Who is going to reimburse my fuel expenses Mr FM since every year I am required to make a trip to the wretched office to respond to such ridiculous claims!

If only the government gets realistic about  going after money laundering or the lakh crores stashed away in foreign banks, may be these I-T chaps will leave a poor tax paying nobody like me alone and go after the big sharks, nay blue whales!

Instead we have the FM this year making feeble noises on black money initiatives!

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Budget 2011 and the dilemmas of a taxpayer

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Cash transfer for crucial items like kerosene, LPG, fertilizer etc - as a scheme there is no faulting it, but implementation?

Think of the lakhs that will have to be distributed each time  - will the deserving people get it or will it find its way under the mattresses of officials, is a mute question.

Tax exemption limit has gone up from 160,000 to 180,000 - thanks FM, a small gesture for  people still  earning, but given today's cost of living, it is no big deal.

My father, a private sector executive who retired after 40 plus years service in the seventies used to say that the person worst hit by inflation is the private sector retiree, while the government takes care of inflation with better pay packets for both its employees and pensioners, who will compensate the ex-private sector person hit by unprecedented inflation?

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Photographs: Reuters
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Budget 2011 and the dilemmas of a taxpayer

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All my father's normal projections went awry, his share prices plummeted and his fixed deposits fetched very little money, his only bright asset was a house he acquired in south Delhi, which by the 90s he was barely able to maintain.

I am afraid my life will soon take a similar turn.

There are just two of us leading a very simple day to life, yet we have had to buy less onions and pulses the past one year; the prices of both sky rocketed, almost four times, when after some intervention by the powers that be the prices came down halfway, we were very happy - what happened to the original price - a part of our collective dream now?

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When our young cook had to leave our services for personal reasons, all I could think of was how much I would save with one less mouth to feed - sometimes I hate myself for the kind of penny pinching I am forced to adhere to.

For all that we have no children to educate, it is all over and done with when education was still affordable and capitation fee did not figure in our lives, there are no elders to support, no major health problems that require expensive medication and yet why this apprehension?

Because, you, Mr FM, are not able to give me any kind of reassurance.

Oh yes I forget, when I get to be 80  I qualify as a very senior citizen and I get to pay even less income tax - I hope by then you or your successor will introduce a dole, for that is what I will need by then!



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