Union Budget 2019: The taxpayers need to see the brighter aspects.

Gone are the days when Indian middle class would switch on their TV sets in late evening on the budget day and try to calculate the gains and losses against Income tax slabs applicable to respective income groups.Over the years the poor electorate specially the struggling middle class and younger generation has reconciled to the fact that it may be a decade or two before we can be prosperous and advanced like some of the richer Asian/European countries. Chasing a dream of work Visa in Western country or job in oil rich nations is the only silver lining which younger generation can look up to after years of academic hard work . The glamorous life of young men with Mercedes and Audi and glamorous parties in farm houses are for blue blooded scions of builders and land mafia only.Hence there may not be much fun in calculating  the impact of Govt budgets from the tit bits offered.

Being a reflection of the ongoing trends in the Society, today the presentation of budget ( broadcast live in almost all cases) is reminiscent of  an exercise in marketing of a new product. The bitter pills are now a days not only sugar coated but also wrapped in silver foil and sometimes touted as acts of patriotism.The customer has to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The financial statements meant for public have been traditionally  compared to Bikni which is expected to reveal everything except the vital information. The continuously emerging political challenges and fears of loss in vote banks have given rise to a trend  for financial management focussed on camouflaging the gains and losses.

Over the years in the exercise for tax management, the middle class, which bears the burden of running the economy has been blessed by the various Governments with tax gains of inconsequential nature which are much hyped and blown out of proportion.Whenever some unwelcome adjustments are to be sold to the tax payers/vote banks the total figures of jump in collection are repeatedly trumpeted, (whereas individual taxpayer is concerned only with his individual gains and losses).

In earlier times the Budgets also had liberal sprinkling of  of literary or humorous  contents when the Finance Ministers (FM) would indulge into some funny anecdotes or Urdu Shairi before pushing through some major changes in rates of certain commonly used items.The literary content seems to have gone out of fashion in favour of  patriotic/jingoist vocabulary.Blaming all the bad things on Governments of past lightens the burden on hearts of ruling classes while making the electorate feel guilty for having given reins of power to such catastrophic conglomerates .

While presenting the budget the proposals for reduction into Excise duties used to be focussed on items, such as cosmetics and bindi and kajal which the FMs thought would improve their ratings in the eyes of mothers and sisters without causing dent in revenue collections . The hike earlier traditionally used to be for favourite items of bad boys such as liquor and tobacco but these two industries have also woken up to the vulnerability and appear to be doing more philanthropic work viz. sponsoring sports events and social events. So now the taxman is back to favourite shortcut of milking the middle class while simultaneously dangling tax concessions which can generally be harnessed by honest man only after cutting out all luxuries from the domestic budget.Everyone has to tighten belts for ensuring that savings get channelised to some respectable banks and insurance companies .

The middle class should also appreciate that there is no need to be overtly distressed for the assessment procedures are set to get “Modernised” moreover nowadays for the taxpayer there is also option for subscribing to so many charities of all nature. These contributions would take care of bovines or devotees reportedly engaged in welfare of humanity.For such generosity while the taxpayer would get concessions in tax liability, it may also ensure happiness in after life for the donor taxpayers   .

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Sixth CPC Report :(i) Dearness Allowance

The Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) has devoted fourth chapter of the report to the subject of Dearness Allowance (DA) payable to government servants. The sanction of Dearness Allowance is at present based on calculated six monthly increase in the All India Consumer Price Index (Industrial Workers) (AICPI-IW) with base year 1982=100. At the time when the scales granted by Fifth CPC came into existence (1st Jan.1996) this index stood at 306.03.

Fifth CPC started with calculation of DA @ 0% . from 1st Jan.1996 . In the month of April 2004 the rate at which DA was admissible had crossed the figure of 50% and therefore based on recommendations of the Fifth CPC 50% DA was merged in the basic pay . This addition to basic pay was known as Dearness Pay. .Thereafter every increase in DA was calculated on (Basic Pay + Dearness Pay). It has been observed that since after the merger of dearness pay with basic pay the base for calculation of increase in AICPI was not changed the neutralization in cost of living was presently being done at a rate higher than 100%.

Commission has pointed out that the present method of calculation for increase in cost of living takes into account the price rise in a group of identified commodities. It has compared the relative merits of “chain based” and “fixed base” methods of calculation of estimated growth in cost of living. The AICPI as stated above is based on the increase in cost of a basket of identified commodities. In the fixed base method the calculations are based on the assumption that consumer would adjust his consumption needs in relation to increase or decrease in prices of the constituent commodities. The chain based method takes into account the possibilities of change in consumption pattern due to availability of wider range of consumption goods and the improvement in the quality thereof due to economic growth. The latter methodology has been considered to be more relevant in today’s economic scenario.

However the basic data for the pattern of consumption in respect of several essential commodities would have to be compiled through a detailed all India survey if this methodology is to be adopted . The previous Pay Commissions had different views on this matter. The Fourth CPC favored evolution of a separate index for calculation of cost of living for the government servants. The Fifth CPC however felt that such index would also suffer from imbalances since consumption patterns of various categories of employees would be different. The Sixth CPC has suggested a sample survey through National Statistical Commission for evolving an index based on consumption pattern of government employees. Till this exercise is completed the present methodology of calculating the increase in cost of living and calculation of DA would continue.