Levy on equipment and appliances used by the disabled

Taxes

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The Indian government’s new goods and services tax (GST) law would put a levy of 5% on assistive devices for people with disabilities, report several of the country’s newspapers.

With the rollout of the new law, Braille typewriters, Braille paper, carriages, wheelchairs, crutches, and hearing aids would be taxed at 5%, a proposal that has received strong criticism from opposition parties in India. “The Congress Party demands a full roll back of this ‘disability tax’ that will put millions of our disabled people through further hardship,” said Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.

The situation is, however, more complicated than it may initially seem. A few years ago, the Centre party removed customs and excise duties levied on these assistive aids. The new tax encompasses various indirect taxes excluding direct taxes and customs duty. Nonetheless, this appears to be at odds with the spirit and mandate of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016, which requires that the State provide all these assistive devices and equipment to those with disabilities either free or at an affordable price.

“Nearly 80% of the disabled in India are from poor or lower income groups and therefore these taxes are certain to make their lives more miserable than ever before,” said Muralidharan Vishwanath, secretary of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD). In contrast, the Government says that the move will protect domestic manufacturers by increasing the cost of imported products.

Source: The Indian Express; India Times

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