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What are Direct Taxes? How to Avoid Being Overtaxed?

Direct taxes are levies imposed directly on individuals and corporations, such as income tax and corporate tax.

  • 4,531 Views | Updated on: Mar 20, 2024

Direct taxes are levied directly on individuals and businesses based on income and assets. One has to prioritize tax regimes, tax investing options, and deductibles to avoid overpaying direct taxes.

Taxes are the funds that the government collects to fund a country’s growth and development. Paying taxes is an integral part of citizen duties. The state or the central governments are the authorities that levy the taxes, which can be collected as direct or indirect taxes. Indirect taxes are the taxes levied on the services and goods sold to consumers, while direct taxes are paid directly to the government by the citizens.

What are Direct Taxes and Types of Direct Taxes?

A direct tax is levied on an individual’s income and is paid directly by an individual or an institution to the tax authorities. The individuals and the institutions that pay this tax cannot transfer the responsibility for the payment to another entity. There are different types of direct taxes, such as:

Income tax

The tax that an individual, a member of a HUF (Hindu Undivided Family), or a business firm pays based on the income tax slab they come under. This is a mandatory tax levied on one’s income from a business, capital gains, and salary.

Corporate Tax

Corporate tax is levied on the profits or earnings of companies registered in India. It plays a crucial role in generating revenue for the government, which is used to fund public services and infrastructure development.

Capital Gains Tax

A capital gains tax is levied on the profits or gains made through different investment instruments and value holdings. The holding period classifies this tax as either long-term capital gains tax or short-term capital gains tax and differs for different assets. This tax is due once the investment is sold.

Wealth Tax

The tax is levied on individuals, members of a HUF (Hindu Undivided Family), and corporate establishments on the profits or returns from real-estate ownership. Indian residents pay this tax on their global assets, whereas NRIs pay this tax for assets held in India.

How You Can Avoid Being Overtaxed?

While completely avoiding direct taxes is not possible, you can certainly take several steps to minimize your tax liability and avoid being overtaxed. Here are some key strategies:

Choose the Right Tax Regime

India currently offers two tax regimes for individual taxpayers: the old system with various deductions and exemptions and the new simplified system with lower tax rates but no deductions. Carefully assess your expenses and investments to determine which regime benefits you more.

Utilize Tax-saving Investment Options

Investment options like fixed deposits, while being the conventional investment choices, attract taxes on the interest. The interest earned is taxed as income at the rate applied to the investor. The Indian government incentivizes certain investments through tax deductions under Section 80C. These include contributions to provident funds, pension plans, equity-linked saving schemes (ELSS), and life insurance premiums. Maximizing these deductions can significantly reduce your taxable income.

Deduction on Rent

You can claim a tax deduction on the House Rent Allowance (HRA) if you stay on rent and fulfill all the requirements for getting tax benefits. While there is no upper limit for this, some rules cap maximum HRA deduction.

Growth Option Instead of Dividend Mutual Funds

A dividend distribution tax is a tax that a lot of investors pay without realizing. These are levied on the dividends paid by mutual fund schemes other than equity and equity-related instruments. Here, a growth option is much more tax-efficient because the entire sum is not subject to taxation; only the capital gains are taxed.

Claim Deductible Expenses

Various expenses incurred throughout the year are eligible for tax deductions, such as medical insurance premiums, home loan interest, tuition fees, and donations to charitable organizations. Claiming these deductions can significantly lower your taxable income.

Plan Your Insurance Premiums

Apart from the coverage you get with an insurance policy, insurance plans are also great tax-saving options. Under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, the premiums paid on a life insurance policy are eligible for a tax deduction. Similarly, you can avail of tax deductions for health insurance premiums under Section 80D of the Act.

What are the Benefits of Direct Taxes?

Direct taxes, levied directly on individuals and businesses based on income, offer several benefits for a country and its citizens. Here are some key advantages:

Promote Equality and Social Justice

Direct taxes are progressive, meaning higher-income individuals pay a larger share. This helps close the wealth gap and contributes to social justice by equitably distributing resources.

Generate Revenue for Development

Direct taxes form a significant source of government revenue, used to fund critical public services like education, healthcare, infrastructure, and social security. This investment improves the overall quality of life for citizens.

Encourage Economic Growth

Stable and predictable direct tax systems can create a favorable investment and economic activity environment. Businesses can plan their finances more effectively, which fosters economic growth.

Reduce Inflation

When people have less disposable income due to direct taxes, the demand for goods and services may decrease. This can help control inflation and stabilize the economy.

Promote Investment in Public Goods

Direct taxes can be used to fund essential public goods, such as environmental protection, research and development, and national security, which benefit everyone in society.

Foster a Sense of Civic Responsibility

Paying direct taxes contributes to the collective good, giving individuals a sense of responsibility and participation in the nation’s development.

Increase Government Transparency and Accountability

When the government relies on direct taxes for revenue, it becomes more accountable to the citizens paying them. This can lead to greater transparency and efficiency in government spending.

Encourage Economic Efficiency

Direct taxes can discourage certain activities, such as pollution or excessive resource consumption, promoting economic efficiency and sustainability.

Summing it up

Direct taxes not only serve as a financial instrument but also as a catalyst for societal progress. Their role in promoting equality, funding essential services, encouraging economic growth, and fostering civic responsibility underscores their significance in building a thriving and sustainable nation. A well-designed direct tax system is essential for a country’s holistic development and its citizens’ well-being.

Key Takeaways

  • State or central governments are responsible for levying taxes, which can be categorized into direct and indirect taxes.
  • Direct taxes are levied directly on individuals and institutions based on income or wealth.
  • These taxes come in various forms, including income tax, corporate tax, capital gains tax, and wealth tax.
  • Utilize tax-saving investment options, including provident funds, pension plans, ELSS, and life insurance premiums to avoid overpaying direct taxes.
  • Stable direct tax systems create a favorable environment for investment and economic activity.

- A Consumer Education Initiative series by Kotak Life

Amit Raje
Written By :
Amit Raje

Amit Raje is an experienced marketer who has worked in various Fintechs and leading Financial companies in India. With focused experience in Digital, Amit has pioneered multiple digital commerce in India. Now, close to two decades later, he is the vice president and head of the D2C business department. He masters the skill of strategic management, also being certified in it from IIMA. He has challenged his challenges and contributed his efforts in this journey of digital transformation.

Amit Raje
Reviewed By :
Prasad Pimple

Prasad Pimple has a decade-long experience in the Life insurance sector and as EVP, Kotak Life heads Digital Business. He is responsible for developing user friendly product journeys, creating consumer awareness and helping consumers in identifying need for life insurance solutions. He has 20+ years of experience in creating and building business verticals across Insurance, Telecom and Banking sectors

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