The Indian government is contemplating a reduction in personal tax rates for certain categories of individuals in an effort to stimulate consumption in Asia’s third-largest economy. This plan could be announced in July when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government presents its first federal budget after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to secure a majority on its own.

 

Economic Context and Voter Concerns

A post-poll survey highlighted that voters are primarily concerned about inflation, unemployment, and decreasing incomes. Although the Indian economy grew at a remarkable rate of 8.2% in 2023-24, consumption growth has lagged behind at half that rate.

Prime Minister Modi has emphasized his administration’s commitment to enhancing middle-class savings and improving the quality of life.

 

Potential Tax Cuts

The tax cuts under consideration aim to benefit individuals earning over ₹15 lakh ($17,960.42) annually, with specifics yet to be finalized. The current tax scheme introduced in 2020 taxes annual incomes up to ₹15 lakh at rates ranging from 5% to 20%, while incomes above ₹15 lakh are taxed at 30%.

The personal tax rate increase from 5% to 30% when an individual’s income rises from ₹3,00,000 to ₹15 lakh is considered steep. The government is also exploring the possibility of lowering tax rates for annual incomes of ₹1 million and setting a new threshold for the highest tax rate of 30% under the old tax system.

 

Economic Implications

Reducing personal tax rates could potentially boost consumption and increase middle-class savings. Increased consumption by these income earners might make up for the potential loss in tax revenue.

The government aims to maintain a fiscal deficit target of 5.1% of GDP for the financial year ending March 2025.

Fiscal Flexibility

Strong tax collections and a substantial dividend from the central bank provide the government with some flexibility in planning the budget. This flexibility could facilitate the implementation of these tax cuts without severely impacting the fiscal deficit.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Tax Reduction Proposal: The government is considering lowering personal tax rates for individuals earning over ₹15 lakh annually.
  • Economic Growth vs. Consumption: Despite strong economic growth, consumption has lagged, prompting the need for tax cuts to stimulate spending.
  • Voter Concerns: Inflation, unemployment, and decreasing incomes are major concerns that the tax cuts aim to address.

 

  • Fiscal Impact: Increased consumption and robust tax collections may be able to offset the potential loss in tax revenue.
  • Budget Announcement: The tax cuts are expected to be detailed in the upcoming federal budget in July.

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