Saturday, August 26, 2017

HRA Exemption, Rent Deduction and Tax Benefits for Home Loan in India

Author: Sachin Gupta | Find me on Twitter

Many a times, we are all confused with tax calculations on House Rent Allowance (HRA) and tax benefits on home loan, etc. Believe it or not, planning your HRA carefully can go a long way in your financial planning and therefore studying and understanding the various guidelines related to HRA is paramount for a salaried class and a business person.

  • HRA Exemption:

According to section 10 (13A) of Income Tax Act, 1961 read with rule 2A of Income Tax Rules, least of following three is exempt from tax:

  1. Actual HRA received 
  2. Rent paid in excess of 10% of salary (Basic + DA) 
  3. 40% of salary (50% if residing in a metro i.e., New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai or Mumbai) Salary for the above purpose means BASIC + DA.

Let’s take an example. 
Suppose that you’re residing in Mumbai and paying a rent of Rs 20,000 per month and that your salary package comprises of the following: 
  1. Basic — Rs. 50,000 per month
  2. DA — Nil 
  3. HRA — Rs. 20,000 per month (40% of basic)

Now, the exempted amount of HRA will be least of the following three figures: 
  1. HRA received i.e., Rs. 20,000 
  2. Rent above 10% of basic i.e., Rs. 15,000 (Rs. 20,000 – Rs. 5,000) 
  3. 50% of basic i.e., Rs. 25,000
The least of the three is Rs 15,000; therefore, in this particular case you’re entitled for HRA tax exemption of Rs. 15,000 p.m. (per month) out of total HRA received of Rs. 20,000 per month.

In other words, net taxable portion of the HRA works out to be Rs 60000/- per year. 
net taxable portion of the HRA = Total HRA received per year – HRA Tax exempt per year
                                                    = (HRA received per year Rs 240000/-) - (HRA tax exempt per year Rs 180000/-)
                                                   =Rs. 60000 per year

There are four variables in HRA tax calculations namely, salary (i.e. basic pay plus DA), HRA received, rent paid and the city of residence (whether metro or non-metro). In case all of the four elements remain same throughout the year, the HRA tax exemption calculation is to be done on ‘annual’ basis. On the other hand, if there is a change in any of the variable during the year then HRA tax exemption calculation is to be done on monthly basis.

In case the place/city of residence and place/city of working is different, for the purpose of HRA calculation, place of residence will be considered and not place of working. Suppose that you’re working in a factory or a company located in Meerut (near New Delhi) while residing in New Delhi. So, for the purpose of HRA, your maximum entitlement for tax purpose will be 50% of the basic instead of 40% because for metros HRA tax entitlement is 50% and for non-metros it is 40%.

If the employer refuses to allow the HRA tax benefit, then in that case just claim it while filing your return of income and get the refund of excess TDS deducted from your salary. Further with effect from AY 2014-15 a person claiming HRA of more than INR 100000/- will have to submit the PAN of the landlord to claim the exemption. 

Both the working spouses can claim HRA tax benefit separately, if both of them are paying rent and landlord issues either two separate rent receipts or only one receipt specifying the amount or proportion paid by each, then both husband and wife are entitled for HRA exemption according to the amount of rent paid. 

One can avail tax benefit of HRA if the person is living in the house of his/her parents. In such a case, one will be entitled for HRA tax exemption, but the owner of the house who may be the father/mother is assessable for the rental income derived from the house, provided such transaction should be genuine & not with an intention to evade tax. However tax benefit of HRA will not be available if one is living in the house of his/her spouse as no commercial transactions can occur between Husband & wife.

  • Deduction for Rent Paid

A self-employed person can claim tax benefit for the rent paid for his residence and can claim a deduction under section 80GG of the income tax act. As the self-employed person doesn't receive any salary, so there is no HRA and consequently question of HRA exemption – under section 10 (13A) of Income Tax Act, 1961 read with rule 2A of Income Tax Rules –doesn't arise.

As far as home loans are concerned following tax benefits are available to the tax payer:
  1. Tax benefit on principal repayment under Section 80C – Repayment of Housing Loan subject to maximum limit of INR 100000/-. (Maximum deduction under section 80C is INR 100000/-).
  2. Tax benefit on interest payment under Section 24(a) & (b). For self occupied property INR 150000/- and for let out property or deemed to be let out property there is no monetary limit to for interest payments.

  • Claiming both HRA and Home Loan Tax benefit
You can Claim both HRA and Home Loan Tax benefit provided you have a house in one city for which you have taken a home loan and you reside in another city due to work or similar reasons, then you are eligible to avail all the benefits including HRA, tax benefits on principal repayment of home loan and tax benefit on interest payments of home loan. But, if your house is vacant then you still have to pay notional rent income.

In this case the following situations will arise:

Your own house remains unoccupied while you stay in any other accommodation due to employment/business/profession reasons.  You may stay at a place – it may be a different city or a different location within the same city - different from the place where your own house is situated.  

  • Rented accommodation – You are paying rent:  In this case, you can claim HRA tax exemption while your house will lose the status of self-occupied property and will be treated as deemed to be let out, and thus its notional rental income will be taxable in your hands. However you'll get all the housing loan tax benefits i.e. both interest deduction u/s 24(b) and principal repayment under section 80C.

  • Non-rented accommodation i.e., you're not paying rent as the rent is not being paid, the question of HRA tax exemption does not arise. However, your house will be treated as self-occupied and you'll get the housing loan tax concessions i.e. interest deduction under section 24 and deduction for principal repayment under section 80C. 

In a nutshell, if you have a house, either stay in it or rent it out. Don't leave it vacant else notional rental income of your house (even if it is the only house you own) becomes taxable in your hands although you continue to get the interest deduction on housing loan u/s 24(b) and deduction for principal repayment of loan u/s 80C. Furthermore, as regards the HRA, you will be getting the tax exemption under section 10(13A) so long as you are staying in a rented accommodation and actually making the rent payment, irrespective of whether you are having your own house(s) or not.

Have any Questions?


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