The government is looking at ways to create a safety net for the thousands of women and childless people who have been displaced by the country’s harsh economic crisis, including through the introduction of a tax on financial transactions.
The new tax would apply to the amount of transactions a person makes and spends every month.
The new tax will be paid by those earning over Rs 10,000 per month.
It has been estimated that a quarter of women in the country earn less than Rs 1,000 a month and a third of childless adults earn less Rs 500 a month.
The proposed tax would not apply to online transactions.
“We want to see how the tax will affect women and the poor,” said Manoj Kumar, chief of staff to Minister of State for Social Welfare and Empowerment.
This is the first time in recent years that the government has taken the issue of gender inequality seriously.
Earlier, it had not considered introducing a tax at all.
The government has also decided to make the income tax filing compulsory for everyone earning above Rs 1 lakh, but the plan is yet to be implemented.
The government has said it is working on ways to extend the tax benefit to the poor.
The proposal to tax financial transactions has come from a meeting of the women’s rights board in New Delhi last week.
The women’s group said that while the proposed tax was a good first step, it could be better if the government extended the tax to transactions of less than a month or only those whose income is below the threshold of Rs 1.5 lakh.
Experts said that it was important to look at other options such as a cash subsidy or a tax-free savings account.
There are already plans to introduce cash-based savings accounts, but these are only for people who earn at least Rs 1 crore and have bank accounts.
According to the Indian Express, the new tax has been in the works for a while now.
Officials at the finance ministry had also said earlier this month that it would not be introduced on a universal basis, but it could benefit those who earn more than Rs 50 lakh.