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Advantages and Disadvantages of Indirect Taxes


Read this article to learn about Advantages and Disadvantages of Indirect Taxes!

Advantages of Indirect Taxes:

Indirect taxes have advantages of their own.

Briefly speaking, they are as under:


(i) The Poor Can Contribute:

They are the only means of reaching the poor. It is a sound principle that every, individual should pay something, however little, to the State. The poor are always exempted from paying direct taxes. They can be reached only through indirect taxation.

(ii) Convenient:

They are convenient to both the tax-prayer and the State. I he tax-payers do not feel the burden much partly because an indirect tax is paid in small amounts and partly because it is paid only when making purchases. But the convenience is even greater due to the fact that the tax is “price-coated”.


It is wrapped in price. It is like a sugar-coated quinine pill. Thus, a tobacco tax is not felt when it is included in the price of every cigarette bought. It is convenient to the State as well which can collect the tax at the ports or at the factory.

(iii) Broad-based:

Indirect taxes can be spread over a wide range. Very heavy direct taxation at just one point may produce harmful effects on social and economic life. As indirect taxes can be spread widely, they are more beneficial and suitable.

(iv) Easy Collection:


Collection takes place automatically when goods are bought and sold. A dealer collects the tax when he charges a price. He is an honorary tax collector.

(v) Non-evadable:

They cannot be evaded, as they are a part of the price. They can be evaded only when the taxed article is not consumed, and ‘his may not always be possible’

(v) Elastic:

They are very elastic in yield, imposed on necessaries of life which have an inelastic demand. Indirect taxes on necessaries yield a large revenue, because people must buy these things.

(vi) Equitable:

When imposed on luxury or goods consumed by the rich, they are equitable. In such cases, only the .Veil-to-do will pay the tax.

(vii) Check Harmful Consumption: .

By being imposed on harmful products, they can check consumption of harmful commodities. That is why tobacco, wine and other intoxicants are taxed.


Indirect taxes have some disadvantages too, which are as follows:


(i) Regressive:

Indirect taxes are not equitable. For instance, salt tax in India fell more heavily on the poor than on the rich, as it had to be paid at the same rate by all. Whether a rich man buys a commodity or a poor man, the price in the market is the same for all. The tax is wrapped in the price. Hence, rich and poor pay the same amount, which is obviously unfair. They are thus; regressive.

(ii) Uncertain:


Unless indirect taxes are imposed on necessaries, we cannot be sure of the revenue yield. In the case of goods, with an elastic demand, the tax might not bring in much revenue. The tax will raise the price and contract the demand. When the thing is not purchased, the question of the tax payment does not arise.

(iii) Raising Prices Unduly:

They cause the price of an article to rise b; more than the tax. A fraction of the money unit cannot be calculated, so ever middleman tends to charge more than the tax. This process is cumulative.

(iv) Uneconomical:


The cost of collection is quite heavy. Every source o production has to be guarded. Large administrative staff is required to administer such taxes. This turns out to be a costly affair.

(v) No Civic Consciousness:

These taxes do not develop civic consciousness, because many times the tax-payer does not even know that he is paying tax. The tax is concealed in the price.

(vi) Harmful to Industries:


They discourage industries if raw materials are taxed. This will raise the cost of production and impair their competitive capacity.

Direct Vs. Indirect Taxes:

In answer to the question whether direct or indirect taxes are better, much can be said on both sides. But it is safe to conclude that no country can do with one type only. Both types have to be mixed in a good system of taxation.

The rich can be taxed best directly, but pockets of the poor have also to be tapped through indirect taxes. Nowadays, when the state functions are multiplying, substantial amounts are required for the discharge of its multifarious activities. Neither the direct nor the indirect taxes alone can raise adequate revenue. Both are necessary.

Their relative importance depends on a number of factors, such as distribution of income, nature of the economic system, the stage of economic development, etc. Thus, the discussion of the relative merits and demerits of direct and indirect taxes is only academic. It has no practical importance.

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