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‘High rates leading to tax evasion in India’

Tax collection in India one of the highest, I-T rate should be slashed to 25% from 40%: Economist Bhalla

‘High rates leading to tax evasion in India’

New Delhi: While India is not the richest country in the world, the tax collection here is one of the highest and the income-tax (I-T) rate should be reduced to 25 per cent from around 40 per cent at present, eminent economist Surjit Bhalla said.

In an interview, Bhalla said reduction in tax rate is required to accelerate the pace of economic growth.

“We are a much more globalised economy in the world and the world is a lot more globalised. If you look at the overall tax rate structure in India, collection of taxes is one of the highest in the world and we are not the richest economy of the world,” Bhalla said.

He said that tax collection by States, Centre and local bodies is around 19 per cent of India’s GDP. “We should move towards reducing it by two percentage points. As far as direct taxes are concerned, I think the overall tax rate should not be more than 25 per cent. Right now it is close to 40 with surcharges, etc., 25 per cent, which is our corporate tax rate, that’s what our income tax rate should be,” Bhalla said.

Currently, the highest income tax rate in India stands at 39 per cent. The Budget 2023-24 had lowered India’s highest rate of income-tax from 42.74 per cent, by reducing the surcharge applicable on high net-worth individuals.

Bhalla said that taxes need to come down for all and not just benefit a select section of the society. India’s gross direct tax collection during the last fiscal ended March 2023 grew over 20 per cent to Rs19.68 lakh crore. This includes gross corporate tax collection growth of 16.91 per cent at over Rs10.04 lakh crore. Gross personal I-T collection jumped 24.23 per cent to over Rs 9.60 lakh crore. Bhalla said direct tax is one of the areas where there is a lot of bureaucratic involvement and it should be a lot more streamlined to minimise tax evasion.

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