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Lok Sabha Polls: Did Congress Say It Will Implement Inheritance Tax If Voted To Power?

Authors

Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

Claim
Congress said that it will implement Inheritance Tax if voted to power. 

Fact
The Congress President has denied the allegation. No mention of Inheritance Tax in the party’s manifesto. Additionally, Sam Pitroda, whose comments sparked the row, has clarified that he just gave an example.

The war-of-words between the BJP and the Congress has intensified amid the campaigning for the second phase of Lok Sabha Polls. While addressing a rally in Chhattisgarh on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an attack on the Congress over the grand old party’s alleged plan to implement Inheritance Tax if voted to power. PM Modi said, “Congress is saying that it will implement Inheritance Tax, they will introduce tax on inheritance received from your mother and father.” He added, “Congress’ mantra is ‘Congress Ki Loot, ZIndagi K Saath Bhi, Zindagi K Baad Bhi.’ “

Screengrab from X post by @PTI_News

Archived version of the post can be seen here.

The Prime Minister’s remarks have created a stir on social media platforms. Multiple X users shared the video byte of PM calling out the Congress’ alleged plan to implement Inheritance Tax.

Such posts can be seen here, here and here.

Also Read: Ashok Chakra replaced with ‘Kalima’ On The Indian Flag In Telangana? No, Old Video Passed Off As Recent

What Is Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance Tax is a tax levied on the assets/wealth of a deceased person that is to be distributed among their heirs. Multiple countries such as Japan, the US, and France levy such taxes.

Fact Check/Verification

A keyword search for “Inheritance Tax,” and “Congress” on Google led us to multiple reports stating that a comment by the Chairman of Indian Overseas Congress, Sam Pitroda, on inheritance tax in the US during an interview with news agency ANI instigated a political row.

How it started

Sam Pitroda was interviewed by news agency ANI on April 24, 2024. The full video of the same was shared on their YouTube channel with the title “Is Congress advocating for Inheritance tax in India ? Sam Pitroda drops big hint in this interview”

An X post by news agency ANI, dated April 24, 2024,  carried a snippet from its interview with Pitroda. In the video, the interviewer is heard saying, “…but Sir one thing which.. the Prime Minister is pointing out the promise made by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi or in the manifesto … if the Congress party will be voted to power, the party would conduct a survey to run a check on who possesses the wealth in the country, and undertake an exercise to redistribute the same… among the people  …”

Screengrab from X post by @ANI

He then adds, “Let me tell you in America, there is a inheritance tax. So if let’s say  one has $100 million worth of wealth and when he dies he can only transfer probably 45% to his children. 55% is grabbed by the government. Now That’s an interesting law. It says you in your generation, made wealth, you are leaving now, you must leave your wealth for the public, not all of it, half of it, which to me sounds fair. In India, you don’t have that. If somebody is worth 10 billion and he dies, his children get 10 billion, public gets nothing. The law says you get  half of it, public gets half of it. (sic)”

“So these are the kind of issues people will have to debate, discuss. I don’t know what the conclusion would be at the end of the day but when we talk about redistributing wealth, we are talking about new policies and new programs that are in the interest of the people and not in the interest of super-rich only (sic),” he says.

From the video byte it is clear that Pitroda was giving an example of a tax in the US, like he mentions Monopoly Act, and not proposing any such tax for India.

Mentioned US inheritance tax only as an example: Pitroda Issues Clarification

As the row around the Inheritance Tax escalated, Sam Pitroda said that his remarks were twisted by the “godi media.” In a series of X posts, Pitroda stated, “It is unfortunate that what I said  as an individual on inheritance tax in the US is twisted  by Godi media to divert attention from what lies PM is spreading about Congress manifesto. PM’s comments Mangal Sutra & gold snatching is simply unreal. (sic)”

Screengrab from X post by Sam Pitroda

He said, “I mentioned US inheritance tax in the US only as an example in my normal conversation on TV. Can I not mention facts ? I said these are the kind of issues people will have to discuss and debate. This has nothing to do with policy of any party including congress. (sic)”

Adding, “Who said 55% will be taken away ?  Who said some thing like this should be done in India ? Why is BJP and media in panic ? (sic)”

Also Read: Old Video Of Alleged Vote Rigging At A Polling Booth Goes Viral Amid Lok Sabha Polls

No Mention Of Inheritance Tax In Congress’ Nyay Patra

We skimmed through the ‘Taxation and Tax Reforms’ section of the Congress’ manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls. It mentions the enactment of a Direct Taxes Code, elimination of  Angel tax, reducing the tax burden  on MSMEs owned by individuals and partnership firms, and redesigning of the GST council among others. However, we found no mention of any Inheritance tax, or any such tax on the ancestral wealth.

Screengrab from Congress’ Nyay Patra

The word “inheritance” is only found once in the document. Under women’s empowerment section, the party promises, “In matters of marriage, succession, inheritance,adoption, guardianship, etc., women and men should have equal rights. We will review all the laws and ensure quality between men and women.”

Party, Senior Leaders X Accounts Do Not Mention Inheritance Tax

We skimmed through the official X account of the Indian National Congress, and didn’t find any mention about implementation of Inheritance Tax if the party is voted to power. An advanced X search also did not yield any post carrying the term ‘Inheritance Tax.’

Screengrab from X

The X accounts of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, and senior leaders Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were also devoid of any mention of an ‘Inheritance Tax.’

Screengrabs from X

Furthermore, no recent reports indicate that any senior Congress member has suggested the implementation of Inheritance Tax in India.

Notably, during UPA 2.0 the Congress leader and then Union Minister P Chidambaram reportedly pitched the idea of implementing an Inheritance Tax because of the low tax-GDP ratio in the country. “We are really underestimating our capacity to raise resources, especially tax resources. Since non-plan expenditure is difficult to contain, the tax-GDP ratio must be raised, especially by taxing conspicuous consumption and imposing inheritance tax,” he was quoted as saying.

However, the same never materialised.

Estate Duty Act, 1953 Abolished During Rajiv Gandhi Government

A tax was levied on inheritance in India under the Estate Duty Act of 1953. However, the same was abolished in 1985 by the Congress government spearheaded by Rajiv Gandhi. VP Singh, who was the Finance Minister of the country back then, was reportedly of the opinion that the Act had failed to bring about an equilibrium in society and reduce the wealth gap.

When BJP Leaders Mentioned Inheritance Tax

On multiple occasions, BJP leaders have also talked about the benefits of Inheritance Tax. A 2014 report stated that BJP’s Jayant Sinha favoured a form of inheritance tax for wealth passed by the rich after their death to their progeny.

Inheritance Tax
Screengrab from Firstpost website

As per reports, in 2018 late Arun Jaitley had said that hospitals, universities and other institutions abroad have been receiving huge endowments because of  inheritance tax. However, it is not the same scenario in India.

Multiple reports from 2019 had suggested that the Modi government might re-introduce the Inheritance Tax.

Also Read: Congress To Seize Two-Thirds Of Your Assets Under ‘Jawaharlal Nehru National Wealth Redistribution Scheme’? No Such Promise In Manifesto

‘No Plan To Introduce Inheritance Tax, Not In Manifesto’: Congress Leaders Clarify

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge has clarified that his party has no intention of implementing the Inheritance Tax. “There is a constitution, we don’t have any intention. Why are you putting his ideas in our mouths? Just for votes, he is playing all these games…,” Kharge told reporters at a press conference in Kerala.

Clarifying the party’s position, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh stated, “The Congress has no plan whatsoever to introduce an inheritance tax. In fact, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi abolished Estate Duty in 1985.”

Shashi Tharoor said, “…Nowhere does it (Congress manifesto) talk about taking anybody’s gold and snatching the mangalsutra of women… Sam Pitroda is not in the manifesto committee. This is not part of our agenda…It is his personal opinion. You can’t take anyone’s personal opinion and say that it is going to be Congress party’s intention.”

Conclusion

There is no evidence to show that the Congress said that it plans to implement Inheritance Tax. The tax was mentioned by Congress leader Sam Pitroda in an interview, who has clarified that he was giving an example of a tax in America. Additionally, party President Kharge, and other leaders have dismissed the claim. There is no mention of any such tax in the Congress’ manifesto.

Result: False

Sources
X Post By ANI, Dated April 24, 2024
X Post By Sam Pitroda, Dated April 24, 2024
Report By Hindustan Times, Dated April 24, 2024
X Post By Jairam Ramesh, Dated April 24, 2024
Report By Mint, Dated April 24, 2024
X Post By ANI, Dated April 24, 2024
Congress’ Manifesto For 2024 Lok Sabha Polls
X Accounts Of INC, Mallikarjun Kharge, Priyanka Gandhi And Rahul Gandhi


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Authors

Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

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