If you heard Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's Budget speech on Thursday, you would think he was targeting the aforementioned businessman by increasing levies on all the items that went before. But a cursory look at the Budget documents, as ever so often, reveals a different picture. Here are some nuggets to wake you up.
The extra tax on the so-called Super Rich, which the finance minister said would be levied on the 42,800-odd individuals who declare income above Rs 1 crore a year, also applies to companies. The criterion is the same: Income above Rs 1 crore. In the case of domestic companies, the surcharge is 5 per cent and on the others it is 2 per cent. Now, who thinks of companies with Rs 1 crore in income as Super Rich?
It can safely be said now that that Chidambaram does not quite love carmakers. Wasn't he the one who brought in dual excise in cars, with the bigger ones attracting a higher levy? This time the excise on SUVs goes up from 27 per cent to 30 per cent. But we are at a loss to understand what is an SUV. If you speak to the makers of the X Series (BMW) or Q Series (Audi), they would scoff at a Balero or Scorpio and object to being put in the same bracket. So, is Bolero an SUV or not? Not clear. It's not very sporty.
Import duty on high-end cars goes up from 75 per cent to 100 per cent. Thankfully, this time there is a clear definition: Cars priced at more than $40,000, exceeding 3,000 cc in engine capacity if they are petrol driven, and 2,500 cc if diesel-driven.
There is some relief for manufacturers of electric and hybrid vehicles. Import duty on their batteries is abolished. This used to be a big factor in keeping the prices of these cars high.
Excise on mobile phones priced at more than Rs 2,000 goes up sharply: from 1 per cent to six per cent. This would include a large volume of phones sold in India.
Of course, all restaurants, whether they serve liquor or not, come under the service tax net if they offer either air-conditioning of central heating.