“ Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di, toh phir main khud ki bhi nahin sunta .” Like Salman Khan in Wanted , the Finance Minister too kept his commitment — of not allowing the fiscal deficit in 2013-14 to exceed 4.8 per cent of GDP. He held it at 4.6 per cent and expects to squeeze the number further to 4.1 per cent next year.
How will he manage it? Well, like us, the FM would like to tame the deficit, not by spending less, but by earning more. It helps that budgeting is an art of the possible. The government’s receipts in 2014-15 are projected to rise about 16 per cent to ₹12.34 lakh crore, faster than the 11 per cent growth in expenditure of ₹17.63 lakh crore.
The government earns from two sources: ‘revenue’ income from taxes, interest and dividends; and ‘capital income’ from loan recoveries and sale of stake in public sector companies. Some 95 per cent of the exchequer’s income is from revenue sources.
The taxes we pay account for 85 per cent of the revenue receipts. The government’s gross tax revenue is estimated to increase 19 per cent to ₹13.8 lakh crore in 2014-15.
Companies are expected to chip in with a third of the ₹13.8 lakh crore in direct tax inflows. Another 22 per cent will come from direct tax on you and me, and non-corporate entities. The balance will be made up mostly by indirect taxes — customs, excise duties and service tax, which are levied on manufacturers and sellers of goods and services. Tail-end contributors such as the security transaction tax and union territories’ tax add just 0.2-0.4 per cent.
Over the last five years, companies have been footing less and less of the tax bill, their share in total tax revenues falling from 39 per cent to 33 per cent, while individuals and other entities have coughed up a higher share (up from 20 per cent to 22 per cent). With most services now under the tax net, the share of service tax is expected to go up from 9 per cent in 2010 to 16 per cent next year.
So, do the really rich contribute a lot more? Data on how much the surcharge on the super-rich netted is not available. But wealth tax (a levy on the assets of the rich) at ₹950 crore is a miniscule 0.1 per cent of the expected tax revenue. Also, gift tax collections at just ₹1 crore in 2013 (nil in 2014 and 2015) suggests that either gifts aren’t popular in the country or the taxman doesn’t bother with them.
All said, the expected tax-to-GDP ratio (10.7 per cent) is a far cry from the 11.9 per cent of 2007-8.