Finance

Maximizing Tax Savings with HRA Exemption in 2023-24

The HRA exemption can be a powerful tool for tax savings for salaried individuals in India. Understanding the various aspects of HRA exemption, including calculation, documentation, and eligibility, can help you make the most of this benefit and reduce your tax liability.

May 6, 2023
Mohit Sahni
Maximizing Tax Savings with HRA Exemption in 2023-24

The House Rent Allowance (HRA) exemption is a valuable tax-saving tool for salaried individuals in India who reside in rented accommodations. However, to avail of this benefit, one must opt for the old tax regime. This exemption can lead to substantial savings on your taxable income, easing your financial burden. If the annual rent exceeds ₹1 lakh, the landlord's PAN must be submitted. 

Interestingly, even if your employer does not provide HRA, you can claim a deduction under specific circumstances. This article will provide an in-depth understanding of HRA exemption and its benefits for Indian employees.

HRA Exemption Calculation: Factors to Consider

The HRA exemption is determined by the lowest of the following three criteria:

  • Actual HRA received: This is the actual amount you receive from your employer as a part of your salary package toward house rent.
  • People living in metro cities (Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, or Chennai) receive 50% of their basic salary, whereas those living outside of metros receive 40%. Metro cities are considered more expensive in terms of living costs, which is why a higher percentage is allowed as an exemption for those residing in these cities.
  • Actual rent paid minus 10% of basic salary: This criterion ensures that a certain portion of your rent paid is considered taxable income.

Use the HRA deduction calculator on the Income Tax Department's website to calculate your HRA deduction. By entering your basic salary, HRA received, and actual rent paid, you can determine the exemption amount and adjust it against your taxable income.

Required Documentation for HRA Tax Exemption Claims

To claim HRA exemption, you must submit certain documents to your employer, including rent receipts and rental agreements. These documents serve as proof of your rented accommodation and the amount paid as rent. If the annual rent exceeds ₹1 lakh, your landlord's PAN must also be provided. This helps the Income Tax Department track high-value transactions and ensure tax compliance.

Based on these proofs, employers will grant HRA exemption in Form 16. Form 16 is a certificate issued by your employer, providing a detailed summary of the salary paid and tax deducted at source (TDS) on your behalf.

Claiming Deduction without Employer-Provided HRA

Rent paid without HRA can still be deducted under Section 80GG of the Income Tax Act if you do not receive HRA from your employer. However, you must meet certain conditions:

  • You must be self-employed or salaried and have not received HRA during the year you claim 80GG. This implies that if you receive HRA for part of the year, you can only claim the 80GG deduction for the remaining months.
  • You, your spouse, or your minor child must not own residential accommodation in your current city of residence or employment. This condition prevents taxpayers from claiming a double benefit on both self-owned and rented properties.

In addition to the maximum deduction of 5,000 per month, Section 80GG also limits deductions to 25% of adjusted total income.

HRA Exemption for Individuals Living with Parents

You can also claim HRA if you reside in your parent's house. To do so, sign a rental agreement with your parents and transfer the rent to them monthly. Your parents must report this income on their tax returns. 

This can result in tax savings on the family income if their other income falls below the basic exemption limit or is taxed at a lower rate. Ensure to maintain proper documentation, such as rent receipts and bank statements showing rent transfers, to validate your claim.

Claiming Both HRA and Home Loan Interest Deductions

Even if you have a home loan, you can claim both HRA and home loan interest deductions if the houses are in the same city. To do this, you must demonstrate that the rented house and the house with the loan are at different locations. There must be valid reasons for not residing in your self-owned house, such as:

  • Living in another city for work or other personal reasons.
  • Proximity to your workplace or children's school makes residing in the rented house more practical.
  • Your purchased home is under construction, requiring you to rent a temporary residence.
  • Renting out your own house for additional income and living in a different rented property.

In such cases, you can claim deductions under Section 24(b) for home loan interest payments, up to ₹2 lahks per annum, and Section 80C for principal repayments, up to ₹1.5 lahks per annum.

It is important to note that such claims are frequently scrutinized by tax officials, who may reject part or all of the claim if dissatisfied, especially if the claimed amount is relatively high. To substantiate your claim, maintain proper documentation, including rental agreements, home loan certificates, and rent receipts.

Important Tips for Maximizing HRA Exemption Benefits

  • Timely submission of rent receipts and rental agreements to your employer is crucial to ensure the seamless processing of your HRA exemption claim.
  • Regularly review and update your rental agreement, especially if there is a change in rent amount or rental duration.
  • Keep a record of rent payments made through bank transfers, as cash payments might not be considered valid proof by tax authorities.
  • If you are claiming both HRA and home loan interest deductions, maintain separate documentation for each to avoid confusion during tax filing.

To sum this up, the HRA exemption can be a powerful tool for tax savings for salaried individuals in India. Understanding the various aspects of HRA exemption, including calculation, documentation, and eligibility, can help you make the most of this benefit and reduce your tax liability.

Emotional Wellbeing

Riding the Wave of Inflation: A Guide to Investments

November 11, 2022
Usha Mallya
Riding the Wave of Inflation: A Guide to Investments

Inflation is a long-term pattern of rising prices across the economy yearly. Inflation rates indicate the rate of erosion of the value of an investment over time as well as the loss of purchasing power. Investing in assets requires a return on investment consistent with their living standard. 

To overcome the effects of inflation on your investment, you must have financial planning and knowledge. Here are a few things you should know. 

Inflation: What Causes It?

Inflation occurs when the demand for an item or service exceeds the supply of that good or service. This is referred to as demand-pull inflation, and it causes price increases. 

Inflation is also caused by a rise in the cost of producing products and services. As the cost of manufacturing an item rises, manufacturers raise the selling price in order to achieve or maintain a specified profit. This is referred to as cost-pull inflation.

Here's a chart demonstrating how a lakh's value decreases over time to help you comprehend this better.

‍Inflation: What Causes It?

Financial vs Physical Investment

Physical assets can be felt, seen, touched, or held, such as real estate, precious metals, jewellery, plant and machinery, vehicles, tools, etc. These assets must be maintained, repaired, and upgraded, which can lead to expenses.

An intangible asset, such as shares, bonds, deposits in banks, accounts receivables, goodwill, copyrights, patents, etc., cannot be seen or touched, except for the records proving ownership of the asset, for example, shares, bonds, deposits in banks. The value of financial support does not depreciate or diminish with time. Nevertheless, depending on market conditions, the value of a financial asset can appreciate or depreciate.

Asset Classes and Inflation

The value of liquid assets tends to rise less over time than the value of other types of assets since inflation affects them similarly. Because of this, liquid assets are more susceptible to inflation's effects. The larger economy tends to retain fewer liquid assets when inflation rates are high.

Although illiquid assets can generate interest and grow in value, inflation also affects them. Investing in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds is one of the best ways to protect savings against inflation. In times of high inflation, people often spend their liquid assets on consumer goods or invest them in interest-paying assets.

Systematic Investment in Equity Mutual Funds

Mutual Funds offer a Systematic Investment Plan (SIP), a means of investing a fixed amount at regular intervals, say once a month or once a quarter, instead of making a lump-sum investment. Instalments could be as low as INR 500 per month and are similar to recurring deposits. Moreover, it is convenient since your bank can give you standing instructions to deduct the monthly amount.  

Here are some examples of the power of compounding

‍Systematic Investment in Equity Mutual Funds

Three Golden Rules of Investment

Start Early

It is recommended that you start early in order to gain greater financial wellbeing and to maximise your returns on investment. If you allow your investment portfolio to generate returns over time, your returns will essentially create more returns. In technical terms, this is called compounding, proving that even small investments can accumulate into large sums over time.

Invest Regularly

Regularly investing rather than attempting to time a lump sum investment can help you become a more disciplined investor. Ultimately, you must invest no matter how high or low the price is. As a result, investing becomes less emotional, and you can put your money to work more quickly.

Invest for Long Term

The relationship between volatility and time is an advantage of long-term investing. The volatility of investments held for a more extended period tends to be lower than the volatility of assets held for a shorter period. The longer you invest, the more likely you will survive market downturns.

Investments with their risk vs return potential

Three Golden Rules of Investment

Conclusion

If the returns on an investor's assets are less than the rate of inflation, even if they show profits, they will lose money. Additionally, individuals should ensure that their income increases at least as much as inflation; otherwise, they are technically earning less than they would otherwise and losing financial stability.

Financial Wellbeing

Budgeting and managing ZNMD Lifestyle with Lagaan Taxes

December 12, 2022
The Wellness Tribe Team
Budgeting and managing ZNMD Lifestyle and Lagaan Taxes

Striking a balance between lifestyle expenses and taxes can be difficult, but it is essential. On the one hand, you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and have the financial resources to pay for the things you need and want. But, on the other hand, you also want to minimise your tax burden and keep as much of your hard-earned money as possible. 

This often requires spending money on things like travel, hobbies, and other leisure activities. However, paying our fair share of taxes is also important, as they help fund essential services and infrastructure that benefit society. So is there a way to achieve a perfect balance between these two? Let's explore how you can strike this perfect balance in this article. 

Stick To Your Budget

‍Stick To Your Budget - Balancing the Finances Managing ZNMD Lifestyle and Lagaan Taxes
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

One way to strike a balance between these two competing priorities is to create a budget and stick to it. This can help us to keep track of our spending and ensure that we are not overspending on lifestyle expenses at the expense of our tax obligations. It can also help us prioritise our spending and make sure we spend money on the things most important to us.

By setting priorities and being mindful of your spending, you can simultaneously avoid overspending on unnecessary expenses and reduce your tax burden.

For example, consider contributing to a retirement account if you are trying to save money on your taxes. These contributions can be deducted from your taxable income, which can help reduce your tax bill. Additionally, you can take advantage of other tax breaks and deductions, such as the earned income tax credit or the child tax credit, to further reduce your tax burden.

Be Mindful of the Tax Implications

Another way to strike a balance is to be mindful of the tax implications of our spending decisions. For example, certain types of expenses, such as charitable donations or education expenses, may be tax deductible, which can offset some of the tax burdens. As a further benefit, tax-advantaged savings and investment accounts can help you save for the future and reduce your tax liability at the same time.

Cut Back Where You Can

‍Cut Back Where You Can - Balancing the Finances Managing ZNMD Lifestyle and Lagaan Taxes
Photo by GoodNotes on Unsplash

Another way to balance lifestyle expenses and taxes is to carefully review your spending and identify areas where you can cut back. For example, evaluate your monthly payments and look for ways to reduce your spending on things like groceries, entertainment, and transportation. By cutting back on these expenses, you can free up more money to put towards your savings or investments, which can help reduce your tax burden.

"Financial well-being is not just about having a lot of money; it's about having a healthy relationship with money and feeling financially secure." - The Financial Diet.

Identify Ways to Increase Income

You may also want to consider ways to increase your income. For example, you could take on a part-time job or start a side hustle to earn extra money. This additional income can be used to pay off debt, build up your savings, or make investments that can help reduce your tax burden.

This can be challenging if you have multiple sources of income and a complex financial situation. However, by using tools like budgeting software or apps, you can track your spending and income and see where your money is going. This can help you identify areas where you can cut back on your expenses. 

You can learn all these things in a financial wellbeing program if you struggle to keep track of your expenses. 

Closing Thoughts

Overall, striking a balance between lifestyle expenses and taxes requires careful planning and a willingness to make trade-offs. Our WellnessTribe Expert, Usha Mallya, a financial planner and advisor with KPMG, gives us some helpful tips above to start our new year.

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