Tax, Man, Tax

That in which I look at GST (and taxes, and politics), in a different way

Ashes to Ashes
Dust to Dust
If Death ain’t do us apart
Taxes must

That’s how life is. This post, however, isn’t about life. It’s a tale of two taxes.

Let’s visit Direct taxes first. A good example is the implementation of eFiling for withholding taxes (known as TDS in India), and subsequently, the eFiling of tax returns in India. The Govt implemented e-deposit and subsequently eFiling of all TDS in India in a phased manner. If memory serves me right, eFiling was made compulsory for certain kind of taxpayers (Large companies) in 2003 and subsequently rolled out over several years to smaller tax payers.

Even today, eFiling (using digital signatures) of (income) tax returns is not mandatory for several types of small tax payers.

On the other hand, there is GST. Everyone was swept into this “sweeping” reform. Anyone who had any trade or vocation was brought in. People living on borders of states (and where I live, there are 4 states within 20 miles of each other) were “swept” in if, God forbid, they supplied goods or services to anyone in an adjoining state. Gigabytes have been written about this and I am not about to repeat what those wiser than me have said.

Which brings me to the point I haven’t made as yet. A point that finds its origin more in politics than anything else.

Take a look at Democracy. And the Rule of Law. It’s hugely successful in countries like the US and UK. Not as much in India. And even lesser in Russia.

Reason? As Stephen Kotkin mentions in Stalin, Paradoxes of Power, the US and UK and brought in rule of law first and then, over time allowed their people the right to decide. In other countries, the rule of law and the right to administer them came simultaneously.

Much like GST – where the masses were “swept” in. Maybe a softer roll out would have been more beneficial? Especially the learnings therefrom? Maybe then, it could have been more like we wanted it, than what we got.

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