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Union Budget 2023-24

‘That Marwari boy from South 24 Parganas’ gets the budget blues

Corporate comedian Vikram Poddar on why the Union Budget makes him unhappy, makes the CAs happy and much more

Vikram Poddar | Published 02.02.23, 01:32 PM

Shutterstock, Courtesy Vikram Poddar

As a Marwari, I am fundamentally opposed to taxes altogether. I think we should be able to hold the IT department accountable. We should be able to send them notices of excess tax collected and ask them to respond in 15 days (letter delivered on the 14th day but dated 15 days ago) on why they should not be penalised for collecting excess tax, and they should return the excess tax with interest and penalty. Think of it as a taxpayer’s raid on the Income Tax Department.

Against this backdrop, the Budget is yet another reminder of exactly how my hard-earned money is being wasted. I see no joy in the income tax rebate increase from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh, because that is under the new regime. Under the old regime, I could find more exemptions and deductions than my entire (reported) income. I am also annoyed that in this year’s budget the finance minister (FM) did not start with or quote a poem. At least do that much for my Bengali brethren. Where is a poor Bengali to go and brood on the state of the economy when even the humble Charminar now suffers a 16 per cent national-calamity cess on cigarettes. If you’re not a chartered accountant, the Union Budget is basically the annual festival that makes your CA even richer and puts him in a festive mood for the rest of the year. I demand that the FM impose a budget-enrichment cess on all chartered accountants.


The FM knew everyone was waiting for the personal income tax announcements. So she deliberately kept it at the very end of her speech knowing no one would listen to any of the other announcements otherwise. I mean, honestly, what do I care what has been the allocation on defense. If the Pakistanis come invading they are more likely to march straight on to Bangladesh and if the Chinese come invading, they are more likely to march straight on to Pakistan — that is, if they don’t fall into our potholed roads on the way. The best defense would in fact be to further reduce the spending on roads and infrastructure. The allocation to affordable housing is equally lacking in interest for me. The only shelter I am interested in is a tax shelter.

The Budget has allowed start-ups to carry forward losses for 10 years from the earlier limit of seven years. This will ensure that it takes you 10 years instead of seven to realise that your business idea was a complete flop. And while you can carry forward your losses, your family is unlikely to carry forward with you anymore.

To re-skill the youth, the Budget has proposed the Skill India digital platform. But first the youth will have to be de-skilled of lip syncing and dance copying skills so they can look beyond Instagram reels. On the other end of the age spectrum, senior citizens will now be able to avail a 30-lakh limit on the Senior Citizen Savings Scheme instead of the 15 lakh earlier. So now might be a good time to patch up with your parents.

For women, the maximum investment limit under Mahila Samman Saving Certificate will be Rs 2 lakh. To prove that you are a mahila you need to share a screenshot of your insta bio with pronouns she/her and a link to your Instagram reel where you lip sync and dance to Drop some money.

Lastly, the Budget has also reduced the Income Tax Rate on the highest slab from 42.7 per cent to 39 per cent. One hopes this will encourage Elon Musk to shift to India because where else will you get to perform the ultimate test of driverless driving. India is a country where even the car is at risk from pedestrians.

Perhaps that is as much wishful thinking as my dream of sending a notice to the Income Tax Department. But you can still fulfill my dream of being noticed by liking, sharing and commenting on this article. Because at least on that, there is no tax.

The author is a Marwari investment banker turned corporate comedian. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

Last updated on 02.02.23, 01:32 PM

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