Is this the right time to plan Taxes?

The Answer is YES. Why do you need to wait for the month of January to plan your taxes. It has also been observed that the individuals (often salaried ones) end up paying more taxes than they are obligated to. The only reason may be due to sufficient time to conduct the tax-planning exercise is a reason, largely, this can be attributed to lack of awareness about different incentives, allowances and rebates under the Income Tax Act. Apart from the Section 80C deductions which are quite popular, there are various other sections which can help salaried individuals save taxes.

I hereby present 5 tax-planning tips that can aid salaried individuals minimize their tax liability.

1. Utilise the entire Section 80C deduction

As you may well aware that the maximum deduction available under this Section is Rs. 1,00,000/-. Ideally, salaried individuals whose gross total income is equal to or more than Rs 1,60,000 should utilise the entire Rs 100,000 limit. Also, at times, individuals make investments of over Rs 100,000 in Section 80C designated avenues, since they fail to understand that the benefits are capped. For example, despite making investments of Rs 70,000 in Public Provident Fund and Rs 40,000 in ELSS, the amount eligible is only Rs 100,000.

2. Think beyond Section 80C

For salaried individuals whose gross total income exceeds Rs 160,000 pa, deductions under Section 80C may not be sufficient to reduce the overall tax liability. In such cases they can consider the following:

Home loan: Individuals intending to buy a house should consider opting for a home loan. Interest payments of upto Rs 150,000 pa are eligible for deduction under Section 24.

Medical insurance: An individual who pays medical insurance premium for self or spouse/dependent children is allowed a deduction of upto Rs 15,000 pa under section 80D.

An additional deduction of up to Rs 15,000 pa is allowed for premium payment made for parents. In case the parents are senior citizens, then the maximum deduction allowed is Rs 20,000 per year.

Donations: Subject to the stated limits, donations to specified funds/institutions are eligible for tax benefits under Section 80G.

Salaried individuals who plan to pursue higher education should avail of an education loan as the entire interest is eligible for deduction under Section 80E. The loan can be for self, spouse or child from an approved charitable institution or a notified financial institution.

3. Restructure the salary

Restructuring the salary and including certain components can go a long way in reducing the tax liability. Unlike eligible investments which lead to an additional cash outflow, restructuring the salary is a more ‘efficient’ means of claiming tax benefits. The following can form a part of one’s salary structure:

  • Medical expenses which are reimbursed by the employer are exempt up to Rs 15,000 per year.
  • Individuals living in a rented accommodation should have House Rent Allowance (HRA) as part of their salary.
  • Transport allowance is exempt upto Rs 800 per month.
  • Leave Travel Allowance (LTA) can be claimed twice in a block of four years for domestic travel.

4. Claim tax benefits on house rent paid

Salaried individuals can claim rent paid by them for residential accommodation, if HRA doesn’t form part of their salary. This deduction is available under Section 80GG and is least of the following:

  • 25% of the total income or,
  • Rs 2,000 per month or,
  • Excess of rent paid over 10% of total income

Please note that the above deduction will be denied if the taxpayer or his spouse or minor child owns a residential accommodation in the location where the taxpayer resides or performs his office duties.

5. Opt for a joint home loan

As discussed earlier, the principal repayment on a home loan is eligible for a deduction of up to Rs 100,000 pa and the interest paid is eligible for a deduction of up to Rs 150,000 per year.

In cases where the home loan is for a substantial sum, it is not uncommon for the interest and principal repayment to exceed the stated limit. To ensure that the tax benefit is optimally utilised, an individual can consider opting for a joint loan with his spouse or parent or sibling.

This will ensure that both the co-owners can claim tax deductions in the proportion of their holding in the loan. The co-owner falling in the higher tax bracket should hold a higher proportion of home loan to ensure that the tax benefits are maximized.

This post is written by Praveen of Reach Tax. He is reachable at praveen@reachtax.com

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