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Raise property taxes to mobilise funds for inclusive growth

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By raising property taxes, the Government can mobilise resources to realise the goal of ‘inclusive’ development, non-Government organisations such as Oxfam, Christian Aid and the Centre for Budget and Governance and Accountability have suggested.
India mobilises the lowest magnitude (0.44 per cent) of property taxes, which usually includes wealth, inheritance and municipal property taxes, among all the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the organisations said at a joint press meet here to discuss the forthcoming Budget.
From 2000-01 to 2007-08, property taxes contributed on an average 15.1 per cent of the total tax revenue in the US, 5.8 per cent in South Africa, 5.1 per cent in China, 4.87 per cent in Russia and 4.25 per cent in Brazil, they said.
“Not just the developed countries, even other developing countries such as Brazil, China, South Africa, Argentina and Turkey have a higher tax-GDP ratio than India…It is imperative that India’s tax revenue mobilisation is stepped up and we rely more on direct taxes instead of indirect taxes, which are regressive because they affect the rich and poor alike,” said Nisha Agrawal, CEO of Oxfam India.
John Suresh Kumar of Christian Aid said there was need to review and rationalise exemptions in the tax system, which were estimated to be worth 6 per cent of GDP in 2011-12. “Tax breaks should be project-specific, and should not be treated as a ‘cost-saving’ source for corporations seeking sustained tax holidays,” he added.
Subrat Das, Director of the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, said although discussions were said to be in progress to amend India’s Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with Mauritius, a comprehensive review of all such agreements was needed to understand the revenue implications and extent of ‘treaty shopping’ taking place
The organisations said by taking these measures India could easily raise up to 20-25 per cent of GDP as tax revenues, the amount necessary to deliver the objectives of faster, inclusive, and more sustainable development.
Source: Hindu

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