Wednesday, July 8, 2009

IT Industry - Stop begging for favours

One of the provisions of the Indian budget presented a couple of days back is to extend the income tax holiday to IT companies This is an annual ritual. The STPI scheme under which this tax holiday is enjoyed was supposed to expire sometime ago. Every year the industry clamours for its continuance. And the government accedes.

The Indian IT industry does not pay the full income tax in India. This is a completely wonky situation. They operate in many countries in the world, most notably in the US. The tax laws are such that they pay taxes in every country they operate in. The only country in the world where they don’t pay is India.

Businessmen have no shame when they clamour for sops from the government. Moral and ethical rationale have no place in this argument, it appears. The same businessmen bemoan the fact that the fiscal deficit is huge. Why will it not be huge when everybody wants tax sops.

Corporate income tax is the largest source of revenue for the government. And one of the most profitable of industries in India does not pay income tax. Now why do we moan about no tax on agricultural income. Why do we shout on the unsustainable fertilizer subsidy. There is no greater moral vacuum than the IT industry getting tax exemptions. The usual arguments are presented – its an export industry, it creates employment, it needs “support” against foreign competition, blah blah blah. I am not even going to dignify this with demonstrating the utter illogic of these as justification for sops.

The government should bite the bullet and treat the IT industry just like any other industry. And the industry should hang its head in shame for continuing to clamour for tax exemptions.