A thumbs up to income tax relief, but fuel hike worrying

New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) The relief in income tax, cheaper mobile phones and readymade garments, even costlier cigarettes, proposed in the general budget was welcomed by all, but the rise in petrol and diesel prices has come as a major dampener.

The budget has brought cheer to the middle class tax-payers who have been given substantial relief by widening of the income tax slabs.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his budget proposed the following slabs for individual tax payers: No tax for annual income of up to Rs.160,000, a rate of 10 percent tax for up to Rs.500,000, then 20 percent for up to Rs.800,000, and finally 30 percent on anything beyond Rs. 800,000 a year.

In the earlier income tax slab, there was a 10 percent tax liability on income between Rs.1.6 lakh-3 lakh, 20 percent tax on income between Rs.3-5 lakh and 30 percent tax on income above Rs.5 lakh.

‘For young people like us who earn less than Rs.500,000 annually, the reduction of income tax to 10 percent is a big relief. It means more money,’ 22-year-old communication executive Mohnish Malhotra told IANS.

However, Malhotra was unhappy at the rise in the price of fuel. ‘Inflation is making life difficult for people like us who live alone in metros because food and essential commodity prices have shot up,’ he said.

For young Sagar Dash, a bank executive from Orissa who is planning to tie the knot this year, ‘the income tax concessions are a welcome step.’

He said: ‘Widening of the slab will help employees like us who earn an average salary. We are paying a substantial amount in income tax and the new tax slab will help us save a few thousand rupees more every year.’

His girlfriend, who works in a Delhi-based multinational firm, echoed his views. ‘Income tax is the brightest spark in today’s budget,’ the 30-year-old executive told IANS.

Mukherjee said: ‘The proposal to raise the tax slabs will benefit 60 percent of all tax payers.’

The budget has proposed to make cheaper micro-wave ovens, pre-packaged imported goods, mobile phones, watches, readymade garments, toys, long pepper and replaceable household water filters.

But the increase in petrol-diesel prices has left people worried. After the budget, air fares are set to rise by more than 10 percent and the prices of cars are also expected to go up.

For Veena Aggarwal, a housewife, the increase in diesel and petrol prices means a subsequent hike in the prices of a lot of other things as well.

‘The common man is already reeling under the high prices of vegetables and essential commodities. An increase in petrol-diesel prices will mean a hike in prices of vegetables and pulse as well,’ she told IANS.

For youth and students, the budget spelt happiness as mobile phones are set to become cheaper.

‘For college students like me, it’s a great gift from the government. Youngsters like to buy new mobiles every few months and this step would definitely benefit us,’ said 20-year-old college student Vidushi Bhatia.

The increase in tax on cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco was also hailed by many.

‘Finally, it seems that the government is serious about tackling the ill affects of smoking and tobacco. It will definitely discourage a lot of people from smoking and consuming tobacco,’ said Manju Gupta, a teacher.

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