As Rama Murthy completes the sale of his apartment in the Indian city of Hyderabad, he accepts from the buyer a bag full of rupees—part of the purchase price the tax man will never see. “Almost 40 percent of the sale price I got in hard cash,” says Murthy, 39, who works at a software company. “It’s illegal, but it’s rampant in India to avoid paying tax.”
India loses 14 trillion rupees ($314 billion) from tax evasion annually, depriving it of funds for investment in roads, ports, and power, says Arun Kumar, author of The Black Economy in India. General government tax revenue is an estimated 18 percent of India’s $1.5 trillion in gross domestic product, the lowest among the four BRIC nations, International Monetary Fund data show. With so little revenue coming in, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is now attempting India’s biggest overhaul of the tax code in half a century.
印度黑色经济的作者Arun Kumar说印度每年有14万亿折合美元3140亿逃税额，这些逃税额都只能从道路，港口和能源等等方面扣除。IMF的数据显示印度的政府财政收入只有1.5万亿GDP的18%，是金砖四国的最低值。在这么低的税率下，印度的首相MAnmohan Singh将在印度进行一次最大的税率制度改革，这是半世纪以来的第一次。
Investors say tax reform would boost their confidence. “If the government does end up making a substantial amount in revenue as a result of the tax overhaul, their deficit requirements should come down and the interest burden will also come down,” says Killol Pandya, Mumbai-based head of fixed income investments at Daiwa Asset Management (India).
投资人相信税制改革必然会增进他们的信心。来自孟买的投资机构Daiwa Asset Management的Killol Pandya说如果政府真的可以结束逃税的盛行并真的从改革中获得一些收入的话，那么他的赤字将会降低下来，同时他的银行利率也会降低下来。
As finance minister in 1991, Singh accelerated tax cuts and reduced the bureaucracy that many businesses found so suffocating. Thanks to his efforts, the top individual income tax rate is now 30 percent, down from 97.5 percent in 1971. With his Direct Taxes Code legislation, Singh hopes to cut the corporate rate to 30 percent from 33 percent.
The new law, if passed, would also phase out tax holiday periods, which many companies exploit. For years, the north Indian state of Uttarakhand, for example, has had a tax holiday for manufacturers. Companies from elsewhere in India have booked their profits in Uttarakhand-based subsidiaries to lower their tax liability, says Kavita Rao, an economist in New Delhi at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. “When you give these kinds of tax incentives there is always the possibility for misuse,” says Sunil Gupta, a Finance Ministry official who helped write the legislation. Gupta estimates India loses as much as 800 billion rupees a year because of corporate tax incentives.
These reforms will need extra enforcement. “People have to believe that if they don’t pay taxes they will get caught,” says Rao, who will lead one of three studies commissioned by the government of the black market economy. There’s already a proposal to boost the number of tax collectors, and a group has been set up to track untaxed transactions in the underground economy.
One challenge is the paralysis that’s afflicted Parliament since this year’s scandal over irregularities in the sale of valuable mobile-phone licenses. “The government must start the reform process once again,” says Adi Godrej, chairman of Godrej Consumer Products, a maker of household and consumer products. Another reason for lawmakers’ reluctance is that part of India’s unreported cash bankrolls election campaigns, says N. Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the Center for Media Studies in New Delhi. “Political parties will only be curtailing their spending power by backing proposals to curb black money,” he says.
但是到现在为止还有一个挑战需要克服，政府已经由于今年的关于违法出售电信行业营运牌照的丑闻而丧失殆尽了公信力。来自负责房屋和快消品生产商Godrej的主席Adi Godrej表示：改革必须重新开始了。来自新德里中央媒体研究所的N. Bhaskara Rao说另外一个让政府迟迟不肯行动的原因就是印度政府在选战中也有一些说不清来源的现金流。他说：这些政客不可能冒着削减自己开销的危险来支持这个必然会导致他们的黑钱无法使用的提案。