Eight Out Of 10 Indians Want Tax On The Rich, Companies That Profited During Pandemic 

Social security, right to health, control on food and fuel prices are among the demands from the Union Budget, finds a nationwide survey by Fight Inequality Alliance India 

A nationwide survey by Fight Inequality Alliance India (FIA India) has revealed that more than 80 per cent Indians who participated in the survey, support tax on the rich and corporations who earned record profits during the pandemic. The survey took inputs of 3,231 Indians from 24 states ahead of the Union Budget 2022-23 on the expectations of common people from the government. More than 90 per cent participants demanded Budget measures to combat inequality, such as universal social security, right to health and expansion of budget to prevent gender-based violence.  

FIA India is an alliance of NGOs, civil society members, environmental groups, trade unions and social movements.  

A global study by the Alliance showed that the wealth of Indian billionaires has more than doubled during the Covid pandemic while 46 million people are estimated to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020 (nearly half of the new global poor). This means the richest 98 billionaires own the same wealth as the bottom 40 per cent of Indian society. 

Taxing The Rich 

Those in the highest income groups in India at present face high tax rates on their income. Sandeep Sehgal, partner-tax, AKM Global, a tax and consulting firm, says, “On the taxation front, the government has already taken several steps towards bridging the inequality between the rich and the poor, such as having increased surcharge rates on the tax amount, which goes up to 37 per cent for super-rich tax payers; and to prevent tax leakage. However, effective utilisation of the tax collections is also an important aspect that needs to be considered as its use in creating opportunities for the poor and needy can ultimately help them increase their incomes, wealth and standard of living.” 

The survey found that 84 per cent of the respondents want the government to place a 2 per cent Covid surcharge on individuals earning more than Rs2 crore per annum, while 89.3 per cent want the government to impose a temporary tax on companies that are making huge profits during the pandemic. 

Focus On Social Security, Inflation 

The economic and social disruptions caused by Covid have further exacerbated inequalities in India. CMIE estimates that over 10 million jobs vanished during the second wave and 97 per cent households saw their incomes drop. The impact, while devastating overall, has been grossly unequal. According to an Oxfam India report, while the wealth of Indian billionaires has more than doubled during the Covid pandemic, 46 million people are estimated to have fallen into extreme poverty in 2020. The stark inequality in India is disproportionately affecting marginalised communities such as Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and women. 

Anjela Taneja, lead, FIA India, said, “The Union Budget 2022-23 can potentially provide several measures to fight inequality. The stark inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19 have started global wave of protests to make rich pay their fair share. The Government of India can listen to the people and make provisions for social security, health and well-being through the Budget.”  

In the FIA India survey, almost all respondents (97.4 per cent) said the government should prioritise inflation control in prices of fuel and food. A vast majority—80 per cent—also wants the government to address profiteering by private providers in education and health. 

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