How piquant is thy grace
Every face is ridden with grimace
even the mighty sings with the meek
Phukat te poushtik
The race to save every penny of hard-earned money from the evil clutches of the Income-Tax Department has touched new heights. It’s a battle, and a penny 'parted' is no less than losing face. The tug between the IT and the employer is at its splendid best come March. And it is one that tests the tax-payer's every skill at conning and convincing . The mere thought of parting with ‘my’ share seems dreaded and a ‘no’ spurts out even at ‘Tax’s mention. To come to think of it, March is the only month when one begins to realize how much he is being ‘cheated’ of his own money. The curses and abuses that follow deploring the whole system for not letting him have his ‘due’ is one occasion not to be missed.
It is that time of the year when the hibernating second-rate doctors, broke medical stores and tired advocates make hay. 2 months of overwork is all it takes for them to enjoy a fruitful year ahead. 3% is the new buzz word. Offer them a 1000-1500 they'll go lengths to save an extra 5000. Such a nice deal!. Everyone is hale, hearty and contended.
Now is the season to con. Even the Gods would forgive this mortal sin for this is only to make life on earth more bearable. This is not hedonistic pleasure but life is to enjoy it all, isn’t it? A fake address here, a bogus signature there, a dubious investment, an incredulous claim, they are all to be seen. And they are accepted too, of course as long as they seem genuine. Who cares, this is due to me after all. It brings out this aspect of human behaviour that makes the mystery of March intriguing and worthy of a salute.
80C and 10D are no longer flat numbers of a distant Phugewadi .They are the most important aspects of discussions outside office or a canteen talk (tea-time discussion to be more fair to the office chatters). A layman would be forgiven for assuming these guys are on a hunt for a new abode. And there are those who feel cheated that only a part of their declaration would be considered to be non-taxable or only interest of their home-loans and car-loans would be given a benefit to that effect or only half was accepted. They might cry themselves hoarse but little can be done except finding a new section to invest in. When the Finance Minister announced to quash the FBT, the whole private sector let a silent tear fall. The CAs of the more established firms worked overtime to devise new ways and means to hide money.
The rush to invest in new bonds, mutual funds, provident funds is like never seen before. What seems funny is the urge to 'lock' a considerable amount for eons to save what actually might be a pittance comparatively.
A holiday ought to be announced to allow indulgence into such nefarious activities. But sadly, the internet is a medium one cannot do without for the purpose. It is a sight to behold when the whole workforce conglomerates exchanging invaluable tips to ensure that extra penny of everyone is saved. This kind of knowledge sharing and expressions of camaraderie is seldom to be seen.
But all is well that ends well. With loads 'locked up', investments declared and accepted, the fool's day ushers a new financial year. A year , when all seems too bland until the wait for March makes the world not quite the same again. The IT people go back to fooling around, the medical stores return to save all possible receipts till the very end and the travel agents relish their 3%s. And the perennial pray of the 'service' people of letting the Finance Minister to have a benevolent change of heart to let the income tax slab be just raised to enable them to fall within the 10% slab.