Uttar Pradesh ministers will start paying their own income tax now, as the State Government decides to end the 40-year-old practice of using state treasury to pay the taxes.
The Uttar Pradesh Ministers’ Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Act, 1981, ensures that the state’s chief minister and other ministers don’t pay any income tax themselves. Instead, their share is shelled out by the state government.
The law, enacted during the tenure of Vishwanath Pratap Singh, the then Chief Minister, has been in force during the terms of 19 CMs and about 1,000 ministers so far.
After a news report made this exposure, the state government announced that the provision will be scrapped.
UP Finance Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna said that UP chief minister and all other ministers will pay their own income tax. He mentioned the fact that the ministers’ income tax bill till now was paid through the state treasury, and added that the decision has been taken on the directives of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The chief ministers who saved on their taxes have been from across parties including Yogi Adityanath, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Kalyan Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ram Prakash Gupta, Rajnath Singh, Sripati Mishra, Vir Bahadur Singh and N D Tiwari.
According to a senior finance ministry official, the State Government paid Rs 86 lakh as the ministers’ tax bill for the last financial year.
According to a Congress leader and colleague of the then chief minister V P Singh, it was argued in 1981 that the state government should bear the income tax burden as most ministers were from poor backgrounds and had meager incomes.
Over the years, the state has been led by leaders like Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, who owns assets worth over Rs 37 crore together with his wife Dimple Yadav, as per an affidavit filed for the recent Lok Sabha polls.
Another former chief minister, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati is worth Rs 111 crore, according to her affidavit filed for the Rajya Sabha polls in 2012.
The current Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s total assets are around Rs 95 lakhs, according to an affidavit submitted for the Legislative Council elections in 2017.
Before the government’s decision to end the practice, Congress leader and former MP, P L Punia said the salaries have gone up several times and therefore, this relaxation holds no relevance; it needs reconsideration and withdrawal.
BSP leader and former UP Finance Minister Lalji Verma said he was not aware of the law and as far as he remembers, he used to pay his own taxes.
UP’s Law Minister Brijesh Pathak said he will be in a position to speak on the issue only after getting it verified from his officials.
Social activist Anil Kumar pointed out that till now the common man of UP bore the burden of those who have all the benefits. He further said these ministers should pay for themselves instead of putting an extra burden on the common man.