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A Tax-Free India | Taxing, the Indian Way

You are a working professional. So are many/most of your immediate family members. You try the most creative things, so that you don’t have to pay your tax. And you don’t. You solemnly agree with match-box covers and finance gurus that say, “Tax is a fine for doing well”. You figure out that the set-up consists of a bunch of over-fed idiots in ethnic wear, playing ping-pong with the meanings of every meaningful word right through the English dictionary (notably “culture”, “heritage”, “democracy” and “truth”) and there is really no meaning to putting more dough in their seemingly bottomless pockets.

Very true; I’m with you here. Yet, technically, this is where you forfeit your government’s obligation towards you. You don’t pay tax; you are ineligible for all schemes, offers, rebates and discounts provided by the government that you so like to avail. You also become ineligible to use social utilities. Believe me, they don’t cost less. They are just subsidized. Meaning the government bears the remainder of the cost. I assure you, if you really start paying for petrol at import prices (instead of subsidized market rates) I think you will have to literally adopt the now popular internet adage “just drink, don’t drive!”

But all of this is hardly relevant (for petrol is subsidized while booze isn’t), and anyway, you still won’t pay your tax. Who knows, you might argue that you are doing society a favour by keeping your money out of the clutches of a twisted capitalist regime. So you fill out your insurance, cash your benefits, check your bank balance, invest in the stock market and generally move around like everything is perfect—which it is, maybe, but hardly legal—until you hear of another scam!

Lacs of crores of the public exchequer’s money have been swindled, vamoosed, defrauded, conned, duped, siphoned off (and other very entertaining and descriptive adjectives) by X minister of Y portfolio, again! (In all probability, this is someone you have never heard of before.) This is bad! Your consternation knows no limits, as you rush across to the nearest ATM and check your bank balance; but all of it is still there, right down to the last paisa. It isn’t your cash they’ve got. You heave a sigh of relief! Yet, being a “thoughtful person” (thank god for public education and free speech) this gets you thinking. Whose cash do they have actually? How is it that, in spite of such frauds on a near-daily basis, your bank balance is still intact, and your salary is still governed by rational indices like budget cuts, inflation and GDP!

A quite logical and astounding answer presents itself—they have swindled off your future! They have sold off some of the country’s most valuable resources in minerals, fuels, forestry and even fodder for Heaven’s sake! And now I present this beautiful paradox which I take immense pleasure in trying to define: “All of this is yours, as it is YOUR future and still not yours as it is your FUTURE.”

So, looks like we have developed a terrible apathy for things that don’t directly affect us in the short term. We implicitly assume that if we close our eyes and stop worrying, nothing will really happen. The Government of India has some humongous amount of taxes due from its citizens. Combined with state-sponsored fraud, really ridiculous policy-making and zero implementation of those said ridiculous policies (thank God for small mercies?), we have a veritable mess that needs some sorting out.

Thankfully, I have the answer. “True genius lies in simplicity.” — Mozart. (And in blatantly proclaiming your genius on every public forum.) So I shall offer a very simple solution. Make India a tax-free nation!

Personally, I feel this shall be a political master-stroke. The only reason we hanker and take the slightest notice is because some of us are forced to pay (or still pay) our taxes. This breeds the need to keep a check on what the money that we pay is being used for. This is the root of all “evil”. Eradicate this, and I promise peace and prosperity to any politician worth his salt. Not only will this help you win the next election, it may also help you secure financial backers to fund your nonsense! Because, let’s face it, India’s wealthy and educated are a formidable entity, in spite of all your efforts to the contrary. Stop worrying about the small money that is never going to come, and think about the bigger picture. You can sell off the entire Kaziranga, along with all the precious rhinos, to China and we wouldn’t even notice. Hell, we wouldn’t notice if Arunachal becomes Chinese, and who are we kidding, it will be anyway. Let’s at least make some money in the process. Moreover, no tax implies great trade and excellent import. You can finally buy that Lamborghini or get that Tiffany (for your mistress) without having to worry about custom laws and all that gibberish. I can go on and on. We can be like Monaco, the gambling capital of the world; or like Abu Dhabi and build impossibly tall hotels with no real purpose. Think of the possibilities of fraud in a project like that! A truly life-changing experience! Give this some thought.

As for us, we shall be more than happy to go along with it!

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To be, or not to be: that's the question

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