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An 'A' for PC!
July 08, 2004 16:00 IST
Even though the stock markets have not responded enthusiastically to the budget, the Finance Minister, in our view, deserves an 'A' for his effort. The retail investor must surely support this view.
As far as you, the retail investor, is concerned, our view is that the net impact of the budget is positive.
First, the bad news:
We all will now have to pay a 2% cess i.e. if your tax liability is Rs 100, you will need to pay Rs 102. This will hit all tax payers save for those in the above Rs 850,000 pa bracket who were paying a surcharge of 10% earlier.
Second, dividends declared on investments debt mutual funds (including monthly income plans) by individuals and HUFs will continue to attract a distribution tax of 12.5% (this rate has been enhanced to 20% in case of investments by corporates). The much needed respite for retail investors has not been provided.
Third, a tax of 0.15% of the value of the transaction will be levied on transactions that take place on the stock exchanges (if you buy shares worth Rs 100,000, you will have to pay Rs 150 to the government).
To be fair, the last two points are not really negatives. The dividend distribution tax already existed and the transaction tax has been introduced in view of the changes having been made to the capital gains tax regime.
Now to the great news!
One, the returns offered by the small savings schemes have been maintained at existing levels. The PPF will continue to pay 8% pa. The GOI Bonds (Relief Bond) too will continue to exist in its present avatar. In other words, the declining interest regime, atleast for now, has come to an end.
Two, senior citizens will finally have a dedicated savings scheme – the Senior Citizen's Savings Scheme, which will yield 9% pa. The LIC Varishta Yojana, which anyways met with only luke warm response, will be discontinued.
Three, the capital gains tax regime has been changed to benefit all. There will no longer be any long term capital gains tax levied on capital gains earned on securities traded on the stock exchange (earlier 10% without indexation or 20% with indexation, whichever is lower).
Also, short term capital gains tax will now reduced to a flat rate of 10% (earlier taxed at marginal rate of income tax). Open ended mutual funds (as they are not trade on the stock exchange) will however continue to attract capital gains tax as earlier.
Four, the exemption from the levy of dividend distribution tax by equity mutual funds has been extended.
Five, lowest tax slab will now start at Rs100,000 of taxable income as against the earlier Rs 50,000. Millions of assesses stand to benefit from this move, which is in line with the recommendations of the Kelkar Committee.
Then of course a lot of the measures that were expected to be taken to increase tax collections (like removal of tax benefits offered under Section 88 etc) did not happen. This is a big 'notional' benefit for tax payers.
From a retail perspective, this budget goes down well. Both for taking some concrete measures to protect the interest of the investor and, more so for not taking measures that were widely expected (and proposed by the Kelkar Committee).