“My father is a deeply religious person. He never knew that not paying service tax was both a sin and a crime.” This is one of the several punchlines used by the government to ask doctors, tailors, tutors, barbers etc. to cough up some service tax.
The government’s attempt is not very effective because of major flaws in their understanding of human behavior:
First, no religion in the world declares not paying service tax as a sin. This is not surprising, since the concept of service tax was absent even around 700AD (Muhammad’s time).
Secondly, deeply religious people are not less susceptible to committing sins and crimes. The deeply religious crusaders murdered millions of innocent people. No religion can claim to have been effective in reducing crime rate. Also, given the nature of religious feelings, one would not be surprised if he finds a businessman praying to gods to protect him from the tax department.
Also, what is going to be the response of a service tax evading father when his son asks him, “Do you pay service tax”? The father who knows all the tricks of the trade to avoid the tax shouldn’t find it very difficult to say to his son, “I pay double the due service tax”.
It will be interesting to carry out an exercise to examine whether the public money spent on such misplaced advertisements even payback the amount through higher tax collections. All the same, this is an interesting development: A supposedly secular government finally taking recourse to religion to collect taxes. Smells like Akbar’s doomed Dine-e-ilahi.
One way to ensue services like those provided by doctors, tailors, tutors, barbers etc. are captured by the tax net, is to offer minor tax benefits to people spending for these services. Everyone will then insist on getting a receipt for such services. Also, even if the service provider charges more for providing a bill, such incidents will be much easier to monitor than appealing to the conscience of the children of hard-nosed service tax evaders.