Saturday, April 16, 2016
For With the beginning of the new financial year, each of us is rejoicing over the pay hike. But, there are no free lunches in life and this pay hike would mean more outflow in the form of taxes, and the hike may not convert into more cash-in-hand. However, by smart planning, you can not only minimise the tax impact but also strike the right balance between in-hand salary and long-term savings.
It would be worthwhile to look at the list of possible tax-saving avenues which could be resorted to by the salaried class to minimise the tax outflow. Also one needs to ensure that the same is communicated in time to the employer to be factored in while computing the withholding tax, so that the pay hike also reflects in the in-hand salary.
If the payroll policy of your employer permits, you can explore the option of revising the compensation package to include tax free components or modify the limits for each of the components and also invest in tax deductible schemes.
Include or modify components of package
House rent allowance: Individuals who do not get House Rent Allowance (HRA) by their employers can claim deduction under Section 80GG for house rent paid. Earlier, this limit was R2,000 per month which has been increased to Rs 5,000 per month in Budget 2016, which means now a deduction of R60,000 per annum can be claimed under this Section.
However, considering that the new limit is still not in line with the sky-high rentals in metro cities and is negligible considering the deduction on account of HRA available to salaried persons, you could consider swapping a portion of other components with HRA. HRA received by the employer is exempt from income tax to the extent of least of following: HRA received; or rent paid over 10% of salary; or 50% of salary in metropolitan/40% of salary at other places.
Taking a break can save your tax: Plan a holiday within India, take a leave and save taxes, by claiming tax exemption on reimbursement of your travel expense known as leave travel concession (LTC). However, it is pertinent to note that the amount of exemption is limited to the economy-class airfare for the shortest route available to your vacation destination and not other expenses such as hotel, local conveyance etc. Since the current block of four years started from January 1, 2014, you can still claim exemption for two journeys in a block of four calendar years, so go ahead take the much needed break, but ensure to keep the travel bills safe for submission to your employer.
Leave encashment: Being a workaholic is not so bad after all, so if you have not taken leaves and have opted for encashing the outstanding leaves, your employer would pay you Leave Encashment which is exempt from tax as under:
– Leave encashment actually received
– 10 months of average salary
– Cash equivalent of unavailed leave calculated on the basis of maximum 30 days leave for every year of completed service
- Amount specified by the government i.e. Rs 300,000
Reimbursements: Reimbursements of expenses from employer may be claimed as exempt for e.g. medical expenses of up to Rs 15,000 per year or reimbursement of your telephone expenses if the phone is used for official purposes. Also, where meal vouchers are provided by your employer, the same may be claimed as exempt from tax (subject to a limit of Rs 50 per meal).
All allowances given by an employer are taxable. Personal allowances include Children Education Allowance, Hostel Allowance etc for which limits for exemption have been prescribed in the Act. However, official allowances like travelling allowance, daily allowance, conveyance allowance are fully exempt from tax.
Claim deductions for your investments and expenses
Owning a house is perhaps a dream that every person has. The government has given an additional deduction of R50,000 available under Section 80EE, which is allowed for the first time home buyers, for loans sanctioned during the year ended March 31, 2017 till the date of repayment of loan, instead of the erstwhile provision of two years. This deduction will be allowed for a house property of a value less than R50 lakh in respect of which a loan of an amount not exceeding R35 lakh has been sanctioned during April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. This is in addition to the deduction up to Rs 2 lakh available for interest paid on housing loan.
Deduction for payment of interest on educational loan taken for higher studies of self/spouse/children is allowed for eight years, without any limit, starting from the year in which interest was paid for the first time.
Charity has a tax angle too and donations made to certain notified/approved institution, are eligible for deduction subject to specified limits under section 80G. Donations given to notified organisations like Prime Minister’s Drought Relief Fund, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, National Defense Fund etc. are eligible for deduction.
So plan your tax savings according to these options and not let the hike in pay affect your cash-in-hand.
FEEL AT HOME
– Look at the list of possible tax-saving avenues which could be resorted to by the salaried class to minimise the tax outflow
– Individuals who do not get House Rent Allowance (HRA) by their employers can claim deduction under Section 80GG for house rent paid
– Being a workaholic is not so bad after all, so if you have not taken leaves and have opted for encashing the outstanding leaves, your employer would pay you Leave Encashment
- Deduction for payment of interest on educational loan taken for higher studies of self/spouse/children is allowed for eight years, without any limit, starting from the year in which interest was paid for the first time
- Plan a holiday within India, take a leave and save taxes, by claiming tax exemption on reimbursement of your travel expense known as leave travel concession.