Goa's Spirited Online Weekly Magazine.

Lion Roars – 25

October 7-13, 2013

Fleecing the taxpayer

Is the middle class being fleeced as tax payers?  I certainly am.  Not only is the central and state governments fleecing us, the banks too have joined hands.  Only in the case of the latter, we remain oblivious to their shenanigans, because few of us bother to access our banks statements to see exactly how.  On my last broadband bill of Rs 1,038.21, the tax component was Rs 114.21.  To make matters worse BSNL rounded off the figure to Rs 1,039.  The decent thing would be to make that Rs 1,038.

My latest 50,000 km service cost me Rs 5,440, of which the tax component was a big Rs 601.86, the breakup of that being as follows: VAT (Rs 345.39), service tax (liability) basic 12 % (Rs 249), service tax (liability) Ed cess 2% (Rs 4.98), service tax (liability) SHE cess 1% (Rs 2.49).  If you didn’t know, “SHE” stands for secondary and higher education which means you and I are paying for the education of thousands of students, especially dropouts, whose only mission in life is to warm the benches they sit on.  Worse still is the fact we now have more students than the college intake capacity because of the strange no-fail policy up to Std VIII.  Besides, we cough up the money and politicians get the credit for implementing Right to Education Act (RTE).

On another denting and paint job that I had to get done and which cost me Rs 7,319, the tax part was a huge Rs 819.46, that included service tax (liability) basic 12% that was billed to me twice, under two heads (Rs 120+Rs 462), the second head being service tax (liability) basic 12 % on 70%.  I am still trying to figure that one out.

Your tax maybe their profit too

My worst fears are that while I expect my service station to diligently pay the government this big amount, I have serious doubts if many restaurateurs in Goa for instance are paying the government even a fraction of the tax they charge.  On the other hand, many popular restaurants especially on the coastal belt write out your bill on a piece of paper.  This assumption is based on some of the receipts or bills I have been given from time to time which look extremely suspicious to me and that the fact that many business people I have spoken to came across as disturbingly casual about reimbursing the taxes they collected.  Certainly many pharmacies look at me either aghast or with disgust whenever I ask for a bill.

NHAI’s greed bypass in Kerala

An action council opposing the expansion of NH-17 into a four-lane 45 m wide toll highway is at loggerheads with the National Highway Authority of India’s which is bent on opposing Kerala’s demands. Keralities say the alignment chosen by NHAI favours rich people in the 87 km stretch in Malappurum district by keeping out of the way of their homes and properties. The council wants NHAI to reconsider the present alignment it has chosen for the highway expansion after it claimed that NHAI had received hundreds of complaints over its “unscientific alignments” at a hearing held for exactly this purpose. But, the NHAI is adamant.

Is this a scam?

Last week, I paid a one way toll fee of Rs 45 at the Hubli-Dharwad Bypass.  Unlike other toll plazas, this is a pokey little hole in the wall put up by the Nandi Highway Developers Ltd that collects the toll.  Vehicles from NH-4 heading towards Karwar for Goa have to pass through to get on to the Hubli-Karwar road (SH-63) which passes through Kalghatgi, Yellapur, and joins NH-17 which connects Goa.  If you tell the men at the booth that you are heading for Goa, you don’t get a free pass.  In other words, you pay for not using the bypass!  The toll ticket clearly says “Entry: Hubli End; Exit Goa I/C or Dharwad End” – neither of which you are heading to.

When the Goa government introduced entry tax on April 15, Karnataka, particularly people living in Karwar and Belgaum objected to the entry fee.  A Karnataka minister even warned “If taxes are imposed on non-Goan vehicles entering Goa, Karnataka would be compelled to set up similar toll collection booths for vehicles entering Karnataka”.  So why should Goans driving from Hubli to Goa be compelled to pay Rs 45?