With the annual budget only days ahead, the main stream media is carrying the pre-budget expectations, but the voice of senior citizens (pensions) get hardly noticed. Team SARCAJC conducted a random survey and found very strong responses from senior pensioners on the following:

100% respondents very strongly feel that price rise is hurting them,interest from their Term deposits should not be taxed,retirement benefits should not taxed, Advance tax should not be applicable to them.

All elderly pensioners narrated tales of how price rise of food products has been hurting their budget. They revealed strong displeasure on the fact that they have been earning negative interest on their term deposit in banks and even that amount is taxed. 80% respondents questioned the prevailing policy of 'encouraging' people to invest in stock market (no income tax is charged on profit earned from selling of stock that was held for one year or more). Playing it safe, they are against investing their hard earned savings into the stock market. The payment of advance tax was seen burden as this required the elderly to regularly calculate their income. The corporate sector announces its quaterly result, and hence is able to pay advance tax, but this is not so easy for the elderly. Many could not figure out their income before end of financial year as they had not availed an option of quaterly interest on their term deposits. Further many were not aware of amount TDS of pension deducted at source, before their former employer gives them form 16 at the end of financial year. And then running after the accountant through out the year to somehow calculate advance tax was burden on their advancing age and failing health.

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS: Exemption limit be raised for senior citizens living from pension & interest earned from term deposits with tenure of 1 years or more be exempt from tax. RBI Relief bonds (Tax free) could be revived for senior citizens. Advance Tax should be abolished for senior citizens. To compensate the loss of revenue, taxes could be tuned to luxary commodities like big cars, big houses, designer jewellery, jazzy electronic goods- which have become more of a status symbol.

Voice of Main Street

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