Saturday, July 12, 2014

Irony of paying less tax for making money from money by doing nothing

As I get older, I would have expected to become more conservative. Instead, I am more likely to be upset by Arun Jaitley promises more income tax relief if economy improves and discussions on tv where it is taken for granted that India has a high rate of taxation, which needs to be brought down. Rare left wing economists talking about the low tax to gdp ratio are brushed aside.

I find it ironic that I pay less tax now thanks to a major part of my earnings coming from divindends in mutual funds than I did when I worked 9 to 5. What is  so special about earning money from money?

In fact, the government takes a 20+% on dividends of non-equity funds, which benefits the richer people far more than people like me.

I suppose, the motivation is supposed to be an incentive for people to invest, but what will I or any person with surplus money do? Can't be kept under a mattress. People like me may put it in the bank instead but the motivation for investing in equity funds is hardly the low tax rate. It is the gambling instinct of riding a bull run :)

No one starts a factory in the hope of paying low tax on profits! Yes, the richer people can move the money to other countries. I would say let them. How much can Cayman Islands and other tax havens consume?

Since I was not going to get a government pension, it was obvious that I needed to save and not spend. However, if the government taxed me more but had a negative income tax for my old age, would it have mattered?

We need to worry about what will happen as we can't stop the following from happening - "Hi, I’m a tablet. I’ll be your waiter tonight".

As a consumer(in US), I do not want to pay the waiter 15% or more tip. I do not want to feel guilty about not paying the tip because the person is probably being paid a minimum wage. As a consumer in India, I am immune to the treatment of such workers in Udipi-like joints. I have learnt to close our eyes as the alternate would make me far too aware of my own incompetence and helplessness and make it impossible to eat out (or do anything) at inexpensive places. Even in the US, I wonder what are the earnings of fast food joint workers but they were supposed to be students working part time to supplement their pocket money.

We need to re-think the importance of money - investments increasingly no longer imply wealth for the society but only for some individuals in the society.

I recall reading a comment. There will be no shortage of things to do for humans in future. The issue is whether they will be paid for it. No one can deny the importance of raising children and the effort involved in it. Today, does the society pay a mother (or father) who has chosen to stay at home for this task beyond the maternity leave?

UPDATE: Longer holding, higher tax takes sheen off debt funds
Better, but wouldn't it be simpler to just treat it as interest from bank deposits no matter what the duration? No special treatment and treat dividend distribution tax as "tax deducted at source" to be treated like any other income.

While at it, do the same for equity funds.

I wish the exercise of increasing capital gains tax was philosophical rather than just a way to collect more tax.

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