5 smart ways to tackle Income Tax

>> Friday, August 21, 2009

Submitting proof of investments is an extremely traumatising affair for all salaried individuals. First, you have to deal with the painful task of collecting and organising hordes of receipts. To top it off are the anxiety levels of not knowing if you’ve invested enough and worrying about how much money you’ll lose to tax in the following couple of months.

Naturally, we all have tax consultants, who will tell us what we need to do to ensure the least possible impact of tax, but it’s even more helpful if we, ourselves are very clear on exactly how much of our salary can we claim as exempted from tax. This way, we know exactly how much we must invest to minimise tax liability. Make no mistake, investing in order to save tax is absolutely necessary, but knowing deductibles on your salary ensures you don’t overdo your tax saving investments.

Basic salary: high or low?
If you earn a salary of Rs 1,00,000 per month, you are definitely aware that the basic amount in your salary is taxable. A high basic salary will come in good stead when you retire, but the flip side, as mentioned above is the tax liability of the same. Let’s say your basic is Rs 40,000. That would make your HRA as 20,000, which can only be claimed as tax deductible if you submit proof of rent to your employer.

Allowances: Double edged sword
Take note that any allowances included as a fixed component in your salary, like petrol, mobile phone bills, etc will be tax deductible. However, if the same were being given to you separately as reimbursement, these aren’t deductible for tax. So, if your pay package has reimbursements as opposed to allowances and that too separate from your monthly package these can be claimed as exempt from tax.

Provident Fund contribution
The Provident Fund contribution from your salary is deductible. You don’t really need to specify this in your declaration. This is something your employers factor in when deducting tax. If you have switched jobs and requested for withdrawal of PF, then the number of years of service will determine whether that withdrawn PF amount is taxable or not. According to the law, PF withdrawal after continuous service of 5 years (with single or multiple employers) is exempt from tax. So, if you’ve worked for less than 5 years, then the interest component on PF is treated as ‘income from other sources’ and is hence taxable. Also, the employer’s contribution is considered as income and is therefore taxable.

Home loans: boon and bane
There is one oft-used and essential tax-saver – home loans. What is commonly done (if both partners are working) is that one partner shoulders the EMI responsibility while the other handles the household expenses. Instead what can be done is that both the partners become co-applicants to the loan. This mean each can claim the rebate individually. Let’s say, the rebate to the loan is Rs 1,00,000 plus another lakh on principal amount, if you have a co-applicant to the loan, then each of you can individually claim Rs200,000 (that’s Rs400,000 in total). Use the rest of your taxable income for some sensible investment then. Note though, home loan tax benefits will come to both the co-applicants only if each has a source of steady income (and proof of payment made is submitted by both). Dependant partners can be co-applicants but won’t avail tax benefits if they aren’t earning.

And, finally education
Another expenditure to take note of, is the amount you spend on your child’s education. In your child’s school fees, there is the tuition fee component, which is entirely tax deductible (under Section 80 C). So keep those receipts handy.
These are some basic deductions, applicable to salaried individuals that need to be factored in before you invest (last-minute) for ‘tax purposes’.
Article Source : UTVi

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