Amidst the debate on taxing the super rich, Wipro Chairman Azim Premji today said it is a “politically” correct thing to do, but expressed doubts whether the government will actually implement the proposal.

“It sounds like a right thing to do politically, but I do not actually know if it will come up (in the next Budget),” Premji told NDTV on the sidelines of World Economic Summit here.

Asked if he is in favour of rejigging tax slabs, Premji said: “It depends on what rate do they start, but in terms of the super-rich, I think there is legitimacy in a country as poor as ours“.

Several experts including chairman of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) C Rangarajan have underlined the need for imposing higher rates of taxes on super rich.

India taxes income at three rates — 10 per cent, 20 per cent and 30 per cent. These rates were fixed in 1997.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram will have to take a call on the issue of levying higher tax rate on super rich in his budget proposals to be presented in the Lok Sabha on February 28.

The Minister, however, in his recent meetings with investors in Hong Kong and Singapore had indicated that he might not increase the tax rates but would focus on compliance to increase revenue.

Chidambaram had last year called for a debate on the need to impose inheritance tax in India saying that enough attention had not been paid on accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few.

Earlier in the month, Rangarajan pitched for higher taxes on super rich, saying that the forthcoming budget could look at imposing surcharge on income above a threshold.

Talks of taxing the super rich has been gaining grounds after the US Congress this month voted for raising taxes on rich Americans, as part of resolutions of crisis over the so—called fiscal cliff.

The US legislation proposes to hike tax rates on individual earning more than $400,000 per year, and on couple earning more than $450,000.

(This article was published on January 23, 2013)
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