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Fin Ministry proposes tax on free speech

New Delhi: Faced with an ever-increasing compulsion to improve revenue collections, the Union Finance Ministry has mooted a proposal to bring more items under the tax bracket, and the list is said to include speech (and other forms of popular expression) which hitherto was said to be available free in this country.

This idea to tax speech is not only expected to shore up the government revenues but, more importantly, curtail the rampant use of it (and leading to many problems) just because it is totally free.

This pioneering proposal to formally levy tax on speech and, for that matter, any other mode of expression (including sign language) has been mooted by the Union Finance Minister during his customary pre-Budget meetings with the top officials of the Ministry.

‘The problem with free speech, if you analyse closely, is it is free. Anything that is free, in our experience, is bound to be misused. For example, Twitter and Facebook,’ the Finance Minister reportedly said.

‘Now, I don’t want people interpreting that this government is against free speech, which is essentially a Constitutional guarantee. We are just opposed to speech being, well, unpaid,’ the Finance Minister is said to have clarified. ‘We are not tampering with Art -19(1)(a) of the Constitution. We are just making a technical correction of moving it and reading it alongside the provision of direct taxes’.

‘Read my lips: No, it will be waxed soon,’ the Finance Minister added for dramatic effect.

Sources in the Finance Ministry also said that apart from bringing general category speech under the tax umbrella, there is also a plan to impose a communal cess or caste cess based on the subject of the speech (or other forms of popular expressions).

According to sources, the Finance Minister has told his officials to prepare a formal blueprint of the proposals that can be circulated among the Congress’ partners in the UPA. And if they all are amenable to it, the proposal will be most likely introduced in the coming Union Budget itself.

It is learnt that the Finance Ministry has come up with three tax slabs based on the usage of speech (and other expressions thereof).

Accordingly, the heaviest users will be taxed at a flat rate of 45%. Typically, artists, filmmakers, Twitter-users, Subramanian Swamy and Arnab Goswami (the duo alone, according to a recent IMF statistic, use 27 per cent of global freedom of expression resources) are expected to fall under this category. *

The middle-level users, mostly featuring journalists (but not those in charge of editorials because they just write long sentences without actually expressing anything worthwhile) and graffiti writers will be charged at 30%.

The lowest users of free speech, the aam admi, will be charged at 10%. **

Minorities, it is learnt, may be kept beyond the purview of this tax proposal. Free speech is anyway taboo in some of those communities. ‘There is no way we are going to raise any revenue here,’ is what an official said.

Sources added that there is also an attendant provision to provide incentive to the sections that living outside the ambit of free speech so far. As of now, Manmohan Singh seems straight away eligible for this incentive. Doordarshan News can claim some relief with retrospective effect.

Exemptions are also available (under 80 C of the Tax the Talk Act) for those disadvantaged sections suffering from ‘freedom from any expression’: Yeah, this is a provision specially meant for John Abraham and Arjun Rampal.

With speech being taxed, the government hopes to have more funds at its disposal and make the country rich and developed like, say, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

(*Talking of high-end users, the Finance Ministry has created a special highest-end user category featuring Suhel Seth alone, and he will taxed at the rate of 75% based on the irrefutable logic that he has 23 opinions on any one given subject. This move alone may help the government tide over the entire fiscal deficit crisis in one shot).

(**The whole tax is structured on the lines of existing provisions, by which it is meant that the eventual calculation will be basically random).

(Disclaimer: Of course, there will be a complete tax moratorium on all kinds of spoof news. Or else we may end up taxing, well, the Budget itself)

  • Jagadees

    Good one after a long time i guess…. Keep up the work…..

  • Ony

    Good one Haha

  • The next tax will be on breathing i.e.. BREATHING TAX. The tax collected will enable us to help all nations.

  • The next tax will be on breathing -BREATHING TAX – the mother of all taxes

  • Sreenivasa Prasana

    Freedom of speech can only be true if its free. a person unable to pay tax will not be allowed to speak. A new age “Dhandi March” like revolution is sure to happen.

  • Finance ministry’s job is mainly to tax people any new way and not bothering about reducing corruption and extraordinary expenses of politicians. I some how feel present politicians cn be compared to olden day invaders of the country. The difference is they used to invade and disappear till some some time by going out of the country, but present day invaders continue to invade. GANESH B S

  • Vasudevan Venkataraman

    FM also going to tax Parents for their services to their kids and sons n daughters for their services to their age old parents.Family service tax

  • Going by these funny ideas of the Government a citizen perhaps may not be bearing the brunt of income tax after he or she turns 70 or 80 but sure may have to cough up some kind of tax for staying ALIVE in this country.

  • how about tweet tax ( twitter) post tax (facebook) plus tax (google+) mail tax (email ids)

  • K. Asadullah Basha

    Not only that even the baby in the womb also would be liable to pay ‘Advance Tax’ before coming to the Tax Land – INDIA. LET THE FM think about it.

  • kbalakumar

    You’re giving him ideas around Budget time 🙂

  • kbalakumar

    You will leave many of us twiddling our thumbs. 🙂

  • kbalakumar

    Life in itself is taxing, no?

  • kbalakumar

    Tax on thanx 🙂

  • kbalakumar

    Haha 🙂

  • kbalakumar

    Adding salt to injury, Dhandi tax. 🙂

  • kbalakumar

    IT laws, as they are, are more hot air than anything else. 🙂

  • kbalakumar


  • 10- 02-2013 I thank the person / organisation who introduced this new idea of getting comments on public interest matters. In a democracy such ideas and comments from readers and general public who daily watch the wastage of public money by politicians for their own purposes and creating conflicts and conspiracies only to enjoy power is very essential. India badly requires politicians who do not tax common people in some way or other, but tax themselves first. Politicians do not deserve fat salaries, high security at the cost of the common people. I wish Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal must take up this issue on priority. If this issue is taken up crowd of politicians get reduced and country’ s most problems get sorted out and poverty also gets reduced. Coments are welcome.

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