Revision in income tax is perhaps the first thing that the common man, especially professionals from the service sector expect from any Union Budget. The expectations from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget were no different.
However the Finance Ministry left income tax slabs untinkered. The move may have surprised many and even prompted the comparison with what other nations are doing -- financial assistance for Covid-affected jobless citizens by way of grants or cash.
The Union Budget 2021 however does offer five good things for service sector professionals. Here's a look at each one of them:
1. Gig Workers: The Budget proposes to include Gig workers under a minimum wage compliance rule. Gig and platform workers are also proposed to be covered under ESIC and stand to benefit under common social security benefits claimed by other workers.
2. Labour Welfare: There have been cases where employers do not deposit annuation benefits and even PF on time despite deducting it from employees' salary. Late payouts results in financial difficulties for such affected employees. The Finance Minister has clearly stated that such late deposits should not be deducted from the employer's deduction.
3. For Senior Citizens: For Senior citizens this budget helps in the form of exemption in filing income tax returns for citizens over the age of 75.
4. Disposal on Old vehicles: Several states have policies that mandate scrapping vehicles as old as 15 years. While sending the car to the mortuary could be an easier decision for cars in bad shape, it is a heart-burn for those who cannot afford doing so. The 2021 Budget proposes a scrappage for vehicles that have attained 20 years or more.
5. Extension of Affordable Housing Scheme: There was consensus that the Union could have made buying a house a more sweeter deal. States such as Maharashtra had offered concessions in stamp duty and registration that helped revive sales. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed an extension of the affordable housing scheme. Previously home buyers purchasing affordable homes could avail tax benefits to the tune of Rs 1.5 lakhs under section 80EE of the Income Tax act. The time period has been extended from March 31, 2021 to March 31, 2022.
The common man who suffered the brunt of the Covid pandemic and the associated inflation during the recovery process expected sops and benefits in areas such as affordability in insurance premiums, fees incurred on education, cheaper petrol and diesel and other measures that would have created much-desired affordability.