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The Income Tax Act (ITA), 1961, lists the expenses and investments that taxpayers can deduct from gross income while computing payable taxes. Awareness about such exemptions and deductions is essential to pay the correct tax amount.
Section 16 of the ITA is one such deduction applicable to salaried employees. It allows various deductions from salary income. Hence, if you are a salaried person, you need to know the deductions you can claim under this section to reduce the taxable portion of your salary.
Under Section 16, the following deductions are permitted:
1. Standard deductions
2. Entertainment allowance
3. Professional Tax (Tax on employment)
You have to deduct these amounts from the total salary you receive to arrive at the sum taxable under the head ‘Salaries’.
1. Standard deduction [Section 16(i)/(ia)]
As a salaried taxpayer, every financial year, you can claim the lower amount between the following as the standard deduction from your total salary:
You can claim this deduction as an exemption regardless of your actual spending. The government introduced this benefit in place of:
The government introduced the standard deduction in the 2018 Union Budget to provide tax relief to salaried individuals. Later, in 2019, the finance ministry raised the limit to ₹50,000.
Before 2018, you could claim reimbursements for the transportation expenses incurred on work-related travels and medical bills. However, those deductions were limited to:
Thus, the total amount you could reduce from your gross salary through such benefits was ₹(15,000 + 19,200) = ₹34,200.
Therefore, with the new standard deduction, the extra tax benefit has become ₹(50,000 – ₹34,200) = ₹15,800.
For example, suppose your salary details are as follows:
Before standard deduction
Deductions available on your gross income: ₹(19,200 + 15,000) = ₹34,200
Thus, your taxable income: ₹(6,26,000 – 34,200) = 5,91,800
Your total tax outgo as per current income tax slab rates (old tax regime):
Tax on income up to ₹2,50,000 = Nil
Tax on the amount between ₹2,50,000 and ₹5,00,000 at 5% tax rate = ₹12,500
Tax on the remaining amount at 20% tax rate = 20% of ₹(5,91,800 – 5,00,000) = ₹18,360
After standard deduction
Your taxable salary income: ₹(6,26,000 – 50,000) = ₹5,76,000
Your tax liability = ₹12,500 + 20% of ₹(5,76,000 – ₹5,00,000) = ₹15,200
Therefore, the standard deduction helps you save on taxes. However, for AY 2021-22, you can avail of this deduction only if you opt for the old tax regime.
Moreover, your employer need not process any bills before you can avail of this tax break. Thus, this facility eliminates elaborate paperwork, making tax calculation straightforward.
How does standard deduction impact pensioners?
The income tax laws consider pension received from former employers as income under the head ‘Salaries’. Thus, if you are a pensioner, you can claim ₹50,000 or your pension amount, whichever is less, as the standard deduction.
As a pensioner, you might not enjoy allowances on transport or medical expenses. Thus, with standard deduction, you can get significant tax relief.
Is there any limit to standard deduction?
The standard deduction amount cannot exceed ₹50,000. Even if your salary is more than this amount, you can deduct only this sum under Section 16.
Also, if your net salary is less than ₹50,000, you can deduct a sum equal to your salary, and not more.
For example, suppose you earn a gross salary of ₹3,00,000.
The House Rent Allowance (HRA, exempt from taxes) you get as a part of this salary amount = ₹60,000
Your Leave Travel Allowance (LTA, tax exempt salary component) = 50,000
Other exemptions (such as contributions towards EPF and PPF) = ₹1,44,000
Thus, your net salary = ₹46,000, which is lower than ₹50,000.
Hence, you can claim a standard deduction of ₹46,000 only.
The standard deduction is a fixed sum applicable to your overall income for the entire financial year.
For example, suppose you earned ₹50,000 net salary under one employer from April to September. Then, you changed jobs and earned ₹50,000 under your second employer up to the month of March. Thus, your total salary income for the financial year from April to March is ₹(50,000 + 50,000) = ₹1,00,000.
Therefore, you are entitled to a standard deduction of ₹50,000. Your net salary this fiscal = ₹(1,00,000 – 50,00,000) = ₹50,000.
|Standard Deduction||Chapter VI-A Deductions|
|It is a flat deduction regardless of actual expenditure.||These deductions are based on actual expenses or investments.|
|This deduction is available only to individuals earning salary income or pension. Self-employed taxpayers, professionals, or business owners cannot claim this benefit.||These deductions are available on the gross income, which is the sum of the earnings from all income sources.|
|This deduction is applied to the salary income before computing the gross income.||These deductions are applied after arriving at the gross income.|
|The limit is fixed at ₹50,000.||The limits vary from section to section. For example, Section 80C allows deductions up to ₹1,50,000.|
Usually, your employer includes this deduction when calculating the tax deducted at source (TDS) applicable on your annual salary. Form 16 that your employer issues should reflect this amount. However, if it is not included, you can claim the standard deduction while filing your tax return.
The standard deduction requires no documents. You need not submit any proof of expenses to your employer or the tax department to get this tax break.
2. Entertainment allowance [Section 16(ii)]
a) For government employees
If you are a Central Government or State Government employee, you can claim deductions towards entertainment allowance from your salary. The available deduction is the least among:
The deduction does not depend on the amount you actually spent on entertainment.
b) For non-government employees
Entertainment allowance is not applicable.
3. Professional Tax or Tax on Employment [Section 16(iii)]
Some Indian states levy a professional tax or direct tax on employment under article 276(2) of the Indian Constitution. Any individual earning an income needs to pay this tax. The state cannot charge more than ₹2,500 per year as professional tax.
The tax laws allow this taxation as a deduction from salary, as per the following rules:
Thus, this financial year, ₹3,000 is deductible, not just ₹2,500.
Section 16 allows substantial savings on your tax outgo if you are a salaried individual. Knowing the rules will help you compute the exact tax amount to pay. Kotak Life offers a tax and savings guide that can help individuals save on their taxes in different ways.
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