House Rent Allowance – How to claim and maximize deduction?

Section 10(13A) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, provides exemption from tax on house rent allowance (HRA) received for salaried employees residing in a rented accommodation.

Self-employed individuals and those salaried employees who do not have HRA in their salary structure cannot claim deduction of HRA.  Still they can claim benefits on the house rent expenses incurred under a separate section (i.e. 80GG), which resembles section 10(13A), but is subject to certain conditions.

HRA exemption can be claimed for the least of the following amounts:

  • Actual amount of HRA received from the employer
  • Actual amount of rent paid for the house in excess of 10% of the basic pay
  • 50% of basic pay for metro cities and 40% for non-metro cities. (metro cities include Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata)

For claiming the exemption, the employee must stay in a rented house during the period for which the exemption is being claimed, and must have actually incurred the expenditure of payment of rent.

‘Salary’ for the purpose of computing the HRA exemption, means:

  • Basic salary
  • Dearness allowance, if the terms of employment so provide
  • Commission based on fixed percentage of turnover achieved by the employee

Points to consider for claiming tax exemption on HRA:

  • An employee is required to submit a rent receipt or rent agreement to the employer as proof of the incurring of such expense. The employer is not required to verify the receipt for granting the exemption to the employee.
  • No rent receipt is to be obtained if the rent is less than Rs 3000 per month. In case the amount of rent claimed exceeds Rs 100000 per year, then the Permanent Account Number (PAN) of the landlord is to be disclosed. If the landlord does not have a PAN, the employee is to submit a declaration to this effect along with name and address of the landlord
  • HRA exemption can be claimed by an employee if he owns a house but stays in a rented accommodation (in cases where the employee owns a house in a city outside of his job location)
  • In cases where an employee has taken a housing loan from a bank to purchase the house, he can avail the deduction of interest under Section 24 of the Income Tax Act and the repayment of principal towards the loan under Section 80C, even when claiming HRA exemption for staying in a rented accommodation
  • The rent receipt should have a one rupee revenue stamp with the signature of the receiver of rent, and details such as rented residence address, amount of rent paid, name of the person paying the rent etc

Example for calculating exemption/deduction of HRA.

A has received the following as salary in the previous year.

Basic Salary– Rs 60,000 (5,000*12)

Dearness Allowance (DA)– RS 12,000 (1,000*12)

HRA– RS 24,000 (2,000*12)

Rent paid: RS 24,000 (2,000*12).

The minimum of the following will be exempt.

Actual HRA– Rs 24,000

Rent paid in excess of 10% of salary (24,000-7,200) – Rs 16,800

40% of salary (assuming the rented house is in non-metro city) – Rs 28,800.

Therefore, Rs 16,800 shall be exempt from tax, and the balance of Rs 7,200 will be included in gross salary.

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Places where you can use Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes till November 24th, 2016


The Government of India recently withdrew the legal validity of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. This means that all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes with you in hand become invalid with effect from November 8th, 2016. Therefore, you cannot do any transaction with both of these currency notes.

However, the Government has allowed certain payments till November 24th, which you can do with your Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes:


  • for making payments in Government hospitals for medical treatment and pharmacies in Government hospitals for buying medicines with doctor’s prescription;


  • at railway ticketing counters, ticket counters of Government or Public Sector Undertakings buses and airline ticketing counters at airports for purchase of tickets;


  • for purchases at consumer cooperative stores operated under authorisation of Central or State Governments and the customers shall provide their identity proof;


  • for purchase at milk booths operating under authorisation of the Central or State Governments;


  • for purchase of petrol, diesel and gas at the stations operating under the authorisation of Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies;


  • for payments at crematoria and burial grounds;


  • at international airports, for arriving and departing passengers, who possess specified bank notes, the value of which does not exceed five thousand rupees to exchange them for notes having legal tender character;


  • for foreign tourists to exchange foreign currency or specified bank notes, the value of which does not exceed five thousand rupees to exchange them for notes having legal tender character.


  • for making payments in all pharmacies on production of doctor’s prescription and proof of identity;


  • for payments on purchases LPG gas cylinders;


  • for making payments to catering services on board, during travel by rail;


  • for making payments for purchasing tickets for travel by suburban and metro rail services;


  • for making payments for purchase of entry tickets for any monument maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.


  • for making payments towards any fees, charges, taxes or penalties, payable to the Central or State Governments including Municipal and local bodies;


  • for making payments towards utility charges including water and electricity -which shall be restricted to individuals or households for payment of only arrears or current charges and no advance payments shall be allowed


All you should know about Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 ban – RBI Clarifications


The Government of India recently withdrew the legal validity of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. This has led to chaos in the Country, with lots of questions running in the minds of people. The Reserve Bank of India has been issuing various answers to clarify confusions among people.

We have explained below the questions answered by RBI for your quick and easy reference.

1. Why has the Government introduced this scheme?

The fake currency in higher denominations of cash has increased in the recent past. The fake notes are used for illegal and antinational activities. High denomination notes have been misused for purposes of hoarding black money by terrorists and other groups who intend to purposely execute fraudulent transactions. India being one of the largest cash economies in the world, has been suffering hugely on this account.
It is for this reason that Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) in denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 have been discontinued with effect from November 8th 2016.

2. What is this scheme?

The legality of the existing bank notes in denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 issued by the RBI till November 8th, 2016 has been withdrawn.

In consequence, these bank notes cannot be used for transacting business and/or store of value for future use. These notes can be exchanged at:

i) any of the 19 offices of the RBI or

ii) at any of the bank branches

iii) or at any Head Post office or Sub-post Office.


3. If I exchange my money, how much value will I get?

You will get value for the entire volume of notes exchanged at the bank branches / RBI offices / post office.

4. Can I get all the currency I exchange, in cash?

No. As per RBI regulation, one person can only exchange up to 4,500 INR across any bank across India. Anything over and above Rs 4,500 can be deposited by the customer in their saving/ current account.

You need to show a valid Identity proof for exchanging cash with any bank. IDs accepted by banks includes Aadhaar Card, Driving License, Voter ID Card, Pass Port, NREGA Card, PAN Card, Identity Card Issued by Government Department, Public Sector Unit to its Staff.


5. Rs 4,500 is insufficient for my need. What do I do?

You can use balances in bank accounts to pay for purchases by cheque, or through online banking, mobile wallets, IMPS etc.

6. What if I don’t have any bank account?

A bank account can always be opened with relevant KYC documents, however exchange can also be done by submitting a valid ID proof at any bank all over India.

7. Need I go to my bank’s branch only?

No, you can go to any branch of any bank all over India. However, if you wish to exchange more than Rs 4,500, you should go to your branch or any other branch of your bank, as the money will be deposited in your bank account.
If you have no other choice but to go to any other bank’s branch for exchanging more than Rs 4,500, you can carry your bank account details so that the other bank can transfer money to your account (please note that you should carry valid ID proof for this purpose).

8. I have no account but my relative/friend has an account, can I still get my notes exchanged?

Yes, you can do that if the relative or friend gives you a written permission for the same. At the bank, you need to show evidence of this permission along with a valid identity or address proof to get the notes exchanged.

9. Should I go to the bank personally or can I send the notes through a representative?

Personal visit to the branch is preferable. In case not possible, a representative with a written declaration by you along with their identity proof can get the notes exchanged.

10. Can I withdraw from ATM?

You can withdraw up to a maximum of Rs 2,500 per card per day up to 18th November, 2016. This limit will be revised to Rs 4,000 from 19th November, 2016 onwards.

11. Can I withdraw cash against cheque?

Yes, you withdraw through cheque subject to an overall limit of Rs 24,000 for a week (including withdrawals from ATM), up to 24th November, after which this limit shall be reviewed.

12. Can I deposit money through ATMs, cash deposit machines?

Yes, you can deposit money through ATMs or cash deposit machines.

13. Can I use electronic mode for transferring money?

Yes, payments through RTGS, NEFT, mobile banking, IMPS, internet banking, mobile wallets etc can be made and there is no cap on them.

14. How much time do I have to exchange the notes?

The scheme closes on December 30th, 2016.

For those who are unable to exchange their currency till then, will get an opportunity to exchange their currency at specified RBI offices (more clarification on this will be communicated by RBI in due course of time)

15. I am not in India right now, what do I do?

You can authorise anyone in writing and such person can exchange Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on your behalf by showing the authorisation letter and a valid ID proof.

16. I am a foreign tourist and have these notes. What do I do?

You can exchange upto Rs 5,000 at airport exchange counters till November 14th 2016, with proof of purchase.


Section 80C: Investment linked tax benefits


With progression in the economy and an increasingly educated and well-informed populace, long term investment schemes have seen an upsurge. This is because the premia paid towards many policies and subscription to certain equity linked mutual funds, for example is not subject to tax, by and large. Simply put, an investor can save tax by increasing his investment and thereby multiply savings gradually over a period of time.


Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961, allows some investment and expenditure for tax benefits. Life insurance premia, deferred annuity, contribution to PF, subscription to certain mutual funds, debentures etc. are exempt to the extent of Rs 1,50,000.


So, how is this tax benefit achieved? Let’s take an example, assuming you earn an annual income of Rs 6,00,000 and your age is 25.  So if you make the specified investments (given below), you can get a deduction of upto Rs 1,50,000 from your total income.  Therefore, your income will be reduced to Rs 4.50,000 (Rs 6,00,000 less Rs 1,50,000). Now you can take your slab benefit (Rs 2,50,000) and calculate tax after taking into account remaining deductions (if any).


You can choose any of the following investments or a combination to suit your needs, against which deductions can be claimed under section 80C:


  1. Payments made to keep in force a life insurance of an individual, spouse or children of that individual and any member of an HUF, can be claimed as deduction


  1. Deferred annuity payments not being an annuity plan of life insurance. Such an annuity should not give option of cash payment to the investor.


  1. Payments received from government by an individual with conditions of his service, for the purpose of securing to him a deferred annuity or making such provision for his spouse or children. This amount can be claimed up to a maximum of one-fifth of the salary.


  1. Contribution to any provident fund to which the Provident Fund Act, 1925 applies.


  1. Contribution to a provident fund notified by the Central government in the official gazette, made in the name of either self, spouse or children or member of HUF.


  1. Contribution by an employee to a recognised Provident Fund or to an approved superannuation fund.


  1. Subscriptions by an individual, his spouse or children and by any member in case of HUF, to any security of the central government.


  1. Subscriptions to any savings certificates under the Government Saving Certificates Act, 1959.


  1. Any contribution to a Unit Linked Insurance Plan of the LIC mutual fund as referred in clause 23D of section 10 of the Act.


  1. Any contribution to a Unit Linked Insurance Plan of the Unit Trust of India Act, 2002.


  1. Any payments made to keep in force an annuity plan of the Life Insurance Corporation or any other insurer notified by the Government.


  1. Subscriptions to any units of any Mutual Fund or any other plan formulated under such a scheme by the Central government.


  1. Any contribution by an individual to any pension fund set up by any Mutual Fund as mentioned above.


  1. Any subscription to a deposit scheme of a public sector company engaged in providing long term finance for construction of houses in India, or to any authority constituted by Law for the purpose of dealing with the need of housing accommodation in cities, towns and villages.


  1. Any tuition fees (excluding development fees or donation) at the time of admission or thereafter, to any university, college, school or educational institution situated within India, or paid for the full time education of a spouse or child of an individual.


  1. Subscriptions to equity shares or debentures forming part of any eligible issue of capital approved by the CBDT made by a public company, or public financial institution.


  1. Term deposit for a fixed period of not less than 5 years with a scheduled bank, which is in accordance with a scheme notified by the Central government or in an account under the Post Office Time Deposit Rules, 1981


  1. Subscriptions to bonds issued by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.


  1. Sukanya Samriddhi Account: This account can be opened at any time from the birth of a girl child till she attains the age of 10 years with a minimum deposit of Rs 1000. Interest on this account is fully exempt in the year of receipt as well as accrual.


  1. Any investment in an account under the Senior Citizens Savings Scheme Rules, 2004


  1. Deduction for home loan repayment: You can also claim deduction for principal repayment, stamp duty and registration charges or any other expenses in connection with the transfer of such house to you.


In order to gain maximum benefit of taxation, one must plan investments well. Also, investments should be availed at the beginning of the financial year so that interest is not lost. In order to make informed decisions, one must study through the various options available and choose the best as per the suitability (in terms of risk, amount and period of investment) and thereby attain tax benefits.

In addition to the above, you can also invest under the following sections for getting tax benefit: 

Section 80CCC:

If an individual makes a contribution to a pension fund of the LIC or any other insurer, he becomes entitled to deduction under this section.  Investments under this section is limited upto Rs 1,50,000 and also your investment under section 80C will be taken into account for calculating Rs 1,50,000

Note: Any amount received as pension or at the time of surrender of such a plan shall be taxable as and when received. Thus, this section works on the ETT (Exempt-Taxable-Taxable) principle, wherein amount invested is exempt, while any receipt of income or principal at the time of surrender is taxable.

Section 80CCD: An individual whether under employment or not can invest in a pension scheme of the Central Government and avail deduction under this section to the extent of 10% of salary/ gross total income in the previous year. This section also runs on ETT principle. You can invest upto Rs 2,00,000 under this section but do note that investment under section 80C and 80CCC (discussed above) will be taken into account for calculating this limit.

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Section 80D: Tax benefits of health insurance and expenses


A major concern for every earning individual today, is the quantum of benefit gained from medical insurance policies in comparison to the medical expenses incurred at a time of illness, both for self and for family members. The first step towards a sound financial plan is to have access to adequate health insurance, and then to be aware of the benefits of the same. A major part of the young and professional Indian populace continues to ignore the need of having a holistic health and medical insurance. Unavoidable lifestyle issues such as erratic working hours, unhealthy food habits, use of alcohol and tobacco, and other lifestyle disorders have necessitated the need of having an adequate insurance plan.

In view of the unavoidable circumstances in which a majority of the young professional class finds itself with respect to work and personal lifestyle, a health insurance can go a long way in lending a sense of security and balance to their lives. Apart from benefits in terms of medical expense coverage, health insurance policies also provides tax benefits. Tax benefit is provided in such a way that it reduces the taxable income and thereby the tax liability of an individual tax payer.


Listed below are the benefits under various provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961, with regard to medical insurance and medical expenses.



Health insurance policy provides various benefits to a taxpayer. As per section 80D, the following deductions can be claimed by an individual or HUF (from income of all heads):

  • Medical insurance premium paid by taxpayer
  • Contribution by taxpayer to a Central Government health scheme
  • Amount paid by an individual for preventive health check-up
  • Expenses incurred for the upkeep of health of a very senior citizen (resident individual who is 80 years of age)



The list below shows the amount to the extent of which a taxpayer can claim a deduction for medical insurance and medical expenses:

Section 80D:


Health Insurance_tax benefit

All expenses above can be claimed as deduction only if it is paid in any mode other than cash payment (is through ECS, cheque etc)

Preventive health check-up: Section 80D also provides that where any expense has been incurred for preventive health check-up, such expense should not exceed Rs 5,000.  Interestingly, this deduction can be claimed even if such expense is incurred through cash payment.


Section 80DD:

For an individual or HUF: Incurring expenses on maintenance of dependant with disability, Rs 75,000 can be claimed in case of disability and Rs 1,25,000 can be claimed as deduction on account of severe disability.



Deduction vis-a-vis medical expenses on self/relative to the extent of Rs 40,000 or the amount incurred by assessee (whichever is less).

For very senior citizen, the deduction can be claimed up to Rs 80,000 and up to Rs 60,000 for senior citizens.



Deductions vis-a-vis persons with physical disability (blindness, mental retardation etc) can be claimed up to Rs 75,000 (FY 2015-16) and for severe disability the amount can be claimed up to Rs 1,25,000.


Conclusion: The premium paid on health insurance not only gives health cover to those suffering from uncertainties surrounding health and wellness, but also aids in saving taxes. In view of rising medical expenses, health insurance can go a long way in providing security and an added tax benefit to individuals of all ages, to the taxpayer as well as to his/her family members. It is for these reasons that more and more people especially the younger professional class, should be educated about the facts and provisions of the tax benefits of medical insurance and medical expenses, so that our country as a whole can benefit as a result of lower tax liabilities and a greater degree of security to all its citizens.


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Income tax rates for 2016-17


The Government of India prescribes applicable tax rates and slab rates every year in its annual finance budget.

Income tax rates applicable for Financial Year 2016-17 are as follows:

All Individuals (resident or non- resident, Men or Women) below the age of 60 years:

Tax rate table



Now let us understand this with an example.  Assuming you are below 60 years of age and your total income

is Rs 10,50,000 from salary.  Your tax will be calculated as under:



Special tax rates: In case of any other source of income (other than salary), tax rate may be different based on the nature of income.  Some examples are as under:

  • 15% tax rate on short term capital gains on sale of listed shares and securities
  • 0% tax rate on long term capital gains on sale of listed shares and securities
  • 20% tax rate on long term capital gains for sale of capital asses
  • 0% tax rate on dividend income from companies


Surcharge: Where the total income of an individual exceeds Rs. 1 crore, additional surcharge at the rate of 12% would be levied on the amount of income tax.

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Interest, Penalty and Prosecution for missing ITR deadline


Missed the August 5th due date for filing ITR this year?  Well, this might not outrightly land you in Jail but there are certain consequences of not filing your ITR on time.  In this article we discuss the interest, penalty and prosecution implications of not filing your ITR on time.


Interest under section 234A

Let’s understand this with an example.  Assuming you have outstanding tax payable on the date of filing your ITR of Rs 10,000. The due date for filing the ITR was July 31 of the following year but you somehow missed the due date and file your ITR on September 15th.

As per the income tax law, you would be required to pay interest as under:

Outstanding tax liability on the date of filing ITR: Rs 10,000 

Interest rate: 1 % per month (or part of month) 

Interest payable: Rs 200 (Rs 10,000 X 1% per month X 2 months)

[2 months because even part of month is considered as a whole month, hence even 15 days of September will be considered as one whole month]

However, this interest is applicable only if you have outstanding tax payable at the time of filing your belated ITR. That means, in the above example, if your outstanding tax payable on July 31, was Nil, your interest liability under section 234A would also be Nil.



If you fail to file your ITR within the due date, the tax officer can impose a penalty of upto Rs 5,000 on you. But this penalty is at the discretion of the tax officer and is imposed only in very few cases.



The income tax law provides powers to the tax officers to initiate prosecution for not filing of ITRs. Yes, that simply means you can end up in jail if you don’t file your return. But not to worry, as such powers are exercised by the tax officers only in very remote cases.


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Missed the August 5th deadline for ITR? This is what you would lose.


Every year payment of taxes is followed by an income tax return (ITR) which is to be filed with the Government of India (usually 31st July, of the following year for individual taxpayers).  Every taxpayer should be aware that filing ITR is not optional if you have taxable income. Notably, this year the due date for filing ITR was extended upto 5th August.

The income tax department does provide you an extended date for filing your ITR but this extension comes with a cost.  In this article we try to explain the consequences of filing your ITR after the due date and what you may lose out of it.


A chance to revise your return

If you have already filed your ITR before the due date and later noticed that you have missed few things, you have a chance to revise your return and rectify the mistakes.  There is no limit on the number of times you can revise your return. But every return can be revised only upto the end of the following year.  For example, for Financial Year 2015-16, you can revise your ITR upto March 31, 2017.

Now if you have missed the due date (ie August 5th), you loose this opportunity to revise your return.  Which means, once you file your ITR after August 5th, that will be considered final and nothing can be modified, so be careful while filling your particulars in the belated return.


Lesser interest on tax refund from the Government 

Did you know that if you have any income tax refund due, the Government pays you an interest @ 1% per month starting from April 1, of the next year?  Which means, that if you have an income tax refund of Rs 10,000 and the Government pays you the refund in the month of August, you would get an interest of Rs 500.

Be mindful that you may not get such interest from the Government if you file a belated return (ie after the due date). In case of belated return, the interest on refunds (if any) is paid by the Government only from the date on which the return is filed by you.


No carry-forward of losses 

If you have any losses under any heads of income (for example capital gains or business/ profession), you are allowed to carry forward such losses to the future years and set-off such losses against income of that year. The effect? Your income of the next year reduces to the extent by which you have reduced your losses.  As a result, you pay less taxes due to reduced income.

But the law provides this option only to the early birds.  Hence, if you file your ITR after the due date, you would not be allowed to carry-forward your losses to the next year.  The effect? These losses will remain unutilised forever.



House Property income for Co-Ownership

What is Co-ownership? 

Co-ownership means where a single house property is owned by more than one person.

How to calculate tax on House Property income in case of co-ownership?

If there are multiple owners of a single house property, then the income shall be taxed in the hands of all such owners in the ratio of their ownership.

Let us understand this with an example:

Illustration: Two brothers, Aarav and Anant co-own a bunglow in the ratio of 40:60. The rent received from the bunglow during assessment year 2016-17 is Rs. 40,00,000. Municipal taxes paid by them add up to Rs. 70,000. No interest is paid on home loan.

Calculation of income under head House Property:

Particulars Amount (in Rs.)
Annual Value


Less: Municipal Taxes




Less: Standard Deduction @ 30% of (A)


Taxable Value (B)


Income in the hands of :
Aarav (40%) of (B)


Anant (60%) of (B)



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Deductions from income from House Property


Did you know that your rental income is not fully taxable? Yes, you can claim deductions from your rental income and pay tax only on the balance amount.  Now let us look at the available deductions from rental income:

Municipal Taxes:

These refer to the payments made to the state municipal corporations as property taxes and are available as a deduction against the annual value. It is to be noted that this expense is deductible only when the owner of the property has made the payment. In case the property tax is borne by the tenant then no deduction will be allowed to the owner.

Standard Deduction @ 30%:

You get a flat deduction of an amount equivalent to 30% on your rental income.  The only thing to be noted is that the rental income has to be reduced by any municipal taxes paid by the owner.

Interest on Housing Loan:

If you are paying a home loan for your property, any interest paid on such home loan is allowable as deduction in the following manner:

i. Self- Occupied House Property: Upto a maximum of Rs. 2,00,000

ii. Let- Out House Property: Actual interest paid without any limit

iii. Interest paid prior to the year in which possession of the house was received or construction completed is also allowable as deduction in five equal instalments starting from the year in which such possession was received or construction completed.

Now let us understand the above with an example: 

Mrs. Vini paid an amount of Rs. 4,25,000 as interest till AY 2013-14 (AY stands for Assessment Year, this means Financial Year 2012-13) in which construction of her apartment was completed. Thus, deduction available to her on account of pre-construction period would be as under:

Assessment Year Amount of interest (in Rs.)












Read: How to calculate income from House Property in case of co-ownership?

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