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Budget 2024: Govt Poised to Slash Personal Income Tax Rates

Last updated: 19 June 2024


The government is reportedly considering significant reforms to the current income tax structure, specifically targeting lower income levels, to enhance consumption and stimulate economic activity. According to a report, the upcoming budget announcement in July might prioritize tax cuts for low earners instead of increasing welfare spending.

Proposed Tax Cuts to Enhance Disposable Income

The report, which cites two government officials, suggests that the proposed tax cuts are intended to increase disposable income for low earners. This increase in disposable income is expected to drive greater economic activity and consumption. One official noted, "Rationalizing tax slabs will lead to greater disposable income, which translates to greater consumption, greater economic activities, and more GST collection."

Budget 2024: Govt Poised to Slash Personal Income Tax Rates

Addressing Steep Marginal Tax Rates

Currently, the tax rate begins at 5% for incomes starting at Rs 3 lakh but escalates sharply to 30% for incomes at Rs 15 lakh. This sixfold increase in the tax rate, despite only a fivefold increase in income, is seen as excessive and in need of rationalization. The officials highlighted that the current structure poses a significant burden on taxpayers and that rationalizing these rates could enhance economic activity.

Economic Stimulus Through Tax Reforms

Implementing these tax cuts is expected to significantly boost consumption, a crucial factor for reviving demand and restarting the investment cycle, particularly in consumer-driven sectors. This move could also lead to increased GST collections, providing further fiscal benefits.

Budget Preparations and Economic Agenda

As the budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 approaches, with a likely presentation in Parliament in late July, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is set to begin pre-budget discussions with industry groups around June 20. This follows a meeting with Revenue Secretary Sanjay Malhotra on June 18.

This budget will outline the economic agenda of the Modi 3.0 government, focusing on stimulating growth without exacerbating inflation, while securing resources for coalition commitments. The overarching goal is to position India as a USD 5-trillion economy and transform it into a 'Developed India' by 2047.

Economic Outlook and Priorities

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) forecasts a 7.2 percent growth for the Indian economy this fiscal year, driven by improving rural demand and easing inflation. Key priorities for Prime Minister Modi's third term include addressing agricultural challenges, job creation, sustaining capital expenditure, and enhancing revenue growth to maintain fiscal consolidation.

Despite strong tax revenues, non-tax revenue remains a challenge due to limited progress in strategic disinvestment, with the sale of Air India being a notable exception. However, the economic policies of the past decade have been positively received, with rating agency S&P upgrading India's sovereign rating outlook to positive, and a potential further upgrade in the next 1-2 years contingent upon meeting fiscal deficit targets.

Conclusion

As the government considers these tax reforms, the potential benefits for low-income earners and the broader economy are significant. By rationalizing the tax structure, the government aims to increase disposable income, boost consumption, and stimulate economic activity, setting the stage for sustained economic growth and development.

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