Some people raise the question ‘Why should I pay tax? They argue: I have to pay for my food, for my house, for my travel, for my medical treatment, for owning a vehicle etc. They also say that if we compare with countries like USA and UK, the people get social security as also medical facilities virtually without any cost. But India does not offer such facilities.

It is true that India does not offer social security and free medical facilities as being provided in some developed countries. But we need to ponder over the issue with a larger canvass. We need to appreciate that the Government has to discharge a number of responsibilities, which include Health care through Government hospitals (usually they offer service without any cost), Education (In Municipal and Government schools the fee is negligible). The Government also provides cooking gas at concessional rate or gives subsidy. Of course the major expenditure of Government has to be incurred on National Defence, Infrastructure Developments etc. Taxes are used by the government for carrying out various welfare schemes including employment programmes. There are Lakhs of employees in various departments and the administrative cost has to be borne by the Government. Though the judicial process involves delay, yet the Salaries, perks of Judges, Magistrates and judicial staff has also to be paid by the Government. Thus on considering these various duties of the Government, we need to appreciate that we must pay tax as per law. We have to act like a responsible citizen.
Though the tax rates have been lowered, but still our country lacks desired tax culture like developed nations. It has been said by Justice Homes of the US Supreme Court that “Taxes are the price for civilisation”. It is time tax is no longer considered as burden but a price for civilization.

Despite considerable efforts for widening the tax base, still the number of taxpayers in our country, is about 51.6 million people which is 4.1 per cent of the over 125 crore population, which is too small for our country. In contrast, in the U.S., about 45 per cent of the population pays taxes.

For sure, potential for tax collection is much higher than what we achieve at present but that is possible if we take adequate and sustained efforts for developing tax culture and also take sincere steps for minimizing harassment of tax-payers as well as develop sense of accountability to ensure hassle –free service, just and fair dealing with the taxpayers. The government plans to collect over Rs 8.47 lakh crore in direct taxes during the current fiscal 2016-17, (up from Rs 7.97 lakh crore in the previous fiscal).

Those having taxable income should certainly declare the income, pay income tax and furnish the Income tax return within prescribed time. The default or delay in fulfilling one’s obligation may result in levy of interest and penalty. Even in some cases of tax evasion and other serious lapses the authorities may launch prosecution against erring people. The department may carry out Survey. It has also an Investigation wing, which is empowered to carry out search and seizure operations. Therefore one needs to be very careful.

Let us take a pledge to help in developing tax culture and help to create a positive public opinion.

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