The TV anchor asked eagerly of Arun Jaitley whether he would take hard decisions or, in the case of a bad drought, revert to loan waivers and (obviously wasteful) subsidies. The finance minister replied that it depended on the situation as it unfolded but he hoped he wouldn’t have to return to such steps. “We hope so too,” said the anchor fervently. Which was cute, coming from someone pushing a wish list of the corporate world as hard-hitting journalism. A corporate world which has on average received Rs 7 crore every hour (or Rs 168 crore every day) in write-offs on just direct corporate income tax alone. And that for nine years running. (Longer, but we only have data for those nine years.)
And that’s if we look only at corporate income tax. Cast your gaze across write-offs on customs and excise duties and the amount quadruples. The provisional figure written off for the corporate needy and the and the belly-aching better off is Rs 5,72,923 crore. Or Rs 5.32 lakh-crore if you leave out something like personal income tax, which covers a relatively wider group of people.