(Before I proceed let me announce to the world that it is my 305th post in this blog 😀 “80% Attendence” being the 300th one!)
Yesterday I read an article in ET, which talked of how the the taxation measures adopted in the recent budget would empower women. Budget and particularly Income Tax have been in the air of the country recently and so I believe most of you would know the measure it was talking about. Still for the uninitiated these measures basically ensure that women pay lesser Income Tax on their Income. As per the article this would ensure that more property is there in women’s name for tax-saving etc and would help in women empowerment.
Now, I would not criticize the intentions of our Finanace Minister, but would it not be little simplistic to put too much of hope on it (I am unable to locate the article on the online edition, else I would have given the link. The article seems to be putting all hopes of amelioreting women’s situation on this one tax-measure!).
Probably it will indeed help in transferring some property to the female members of the family, but there are several issues to it. Legal entitlements does not lead to empowerment by itself. In fact even now, to put certain kind of income out of tax-bracket such tricks are used (showing the income in the name of someone else in the family, who is paying income tax independently, but would not cross the tax-slab by inclusion of such income). It would not really ensure any benefit from the property flowing directly to the women, if it has not been happening already. The practical ownership will remain with men. It can at best help in the pathological situation if a women is thrown out, really needs the property and is even able to fight for it!
Secondly, showing some income in women’s name is all it can possibly encourage. Would it encourage the participation of women in workforce by itself? I doubt! I mean, how many women are not allowed to work because of what percentage of Income Tax is being charged??!!
Further what strata of women would it have any effect, whatsoever, on? Certainly not the poor people, who might very well be out of income tax bracket (and are still poor!).
Last but not the least, given above is it philosphically right to charge less income tax from women? In case of transfer of property it only gives a way to legitimately evade tax. If poor women were left with higher income, it would have helped, particularly those with say a drunkard husband! But they are most likely out of the income tax bracket. And for others, middle class women working in various jobs or women professionals, more often than not, their male counterparts have bigger responsibilities to handle. (As much as I would not have liked it to be so, it is still there. There might be deviations, still it is true of large population!) Is it fair to tax these men more (their families will be affected) than women, who are most likely the second earner in the family?
Or am I overlooking something?