India’s Ministry of Finance has proposed ‘innovative’ tax plans to bolster taxation earnings of the government and improve its fiscal situation. The government has decided to send these proposals for approval in the upcoming Winter session of the Parliament, and hopes it will not meet opposition. The two innovative tax plans are Tax Do Pyaaza and Pattaya Tax.
When asked the basis for Tax Do Pyaaza, the Finance Minister said onion prices have risen tremendously and is now officially a rich man’s commodity in India. Hence, it is plausible to place a ‘tax for the wealthy’ on onions. People are rarely buying onions beyond 1 kilo at a time, given its sheer unaffordability. Hence, anyone buying 2 kilos or more at a time can be termed as wealthy and will now face an onion tax. Since it is for 2 kilos, the term ‘Tax Do Pyaaza’.
When asked people will avoid this tax by simply buying 1 kilo at a time and instead going to the shop multiple times to procure the necessary quantity. The Minister said the government aims to counter this by announcing a National Award programme for this tax category for the highest tax payers, the annual award function for which will be a national TV show on leading channels.
Awards mean publicity and people have egos and egos like to be massaged, hence the aim is that this publicity factor will play upon rich people’s egos who will then voluntarily buy 2 kilo or more at a time. There are many ego-hungry rich people in India who aspire to appear on Page 3 tabloids, reality TV shows, film launch parties and thus, get national publicity. Such a national award scheme might just be the thing they are seeking.
There will undoubtedly be some cases of rich people who do not want this publicity, and prefer to remain hidden. While that is unavoidable, the government does hope it might still garner some additional tax receipts.
Coming to the Pattaya Tax, the Minister said that Pattaya is now the favoured tourism destination for the Indian male population. In order to tap this opportunity, it will place a tax on Indian males who go to Pattaya.
This tax will be levied as a part of the visa application fee at the Thailand embassy and consulates in India, and the government plans to sign a MoU with the Thai Embassy on this.
When countered with the argument that male visitors will avoid this by simply mentioning they are not visiting Pattaya in their Thai trip but are instead going to other Thai spots, the Minister said the government proposes to counter this by adding a Caveat that those who declare they are not going to Pattaya will, in fact, be taxed at a higher rate. This will force the applicants to declare they are indeed going to Pattaya and pay the tax when applying for visas.
The government also added it aims to showcase its people-friendly image by negotiating with Pattaya Tourism officials to get special rates for hotels and other facilities for Indian male visitors, given the potential quantum of Indian visitors. It hopes special rates in Pattaya will negate the additional burden of a tax that Indian males have to pay, hence the proposal will not face opposition.