With the cost of medical treatments going up more than the general inflation levels and senior citizen having to spend relatively more money on their health.
The Finance Minister has opened his box of mixed surprises. There are both positives and negatives in the budget. We will discuss positives of the budget in this article from the point of view of personal taxation.
Benefits for senior citizen
From individual taxation point of view the budget 2018 can be termed as the budget of senior citizens. The finance minister has proposed various measures to provide relief to senior citizens.
With the cost of medical treatments going up more than the general inflation levels and senior citizen having to spend relatively more money on their health. Medical cost or medical insurance premiums constituted major part of the budget of senior citizens. Presently the senior citizen themselves or their children are entitled to claim deductions up to Rs 30000 for premium paid for buying health insurance policies. The finance minister has proposed to enhance this limit under section 80 D to Rs 50000. The finance minister has also extended the benefit of availing deduction in respect of expenses incurred for treatment of a senior citizen where the senior citizen does not have any health insurance which was available only to people over 80 years of age. This is very welcome benefit to senior citizen who are not able to get a health insurance policy due to advanced age and onset of some ailments.
The other major relief proposed in the budget for senior citizen is in respect of interest income from banks, post offices and credit cooperative banks. The senior citizens mainly depend on the interest from fixed deposits for their day today expenses. Presently Section 80 TTA provides for deduction upto Rs. 10,000 to all the tax payers for interest from saving bank accounts from banks, post offices and credit cooperative banks. No deduction is presently available on fixed deposits or recurring deposits. The finance minister has proposed to insert section 80 TTB to provide an overall deduction upto Rs. 50,000 for interest earned from banks, post office or credit cooperative banks. This will include all interests from these institutions whether it is on saving bank account or fixed deposit or recurring deposits. The finance minister simultaneously proposed to enhance the limit for tax deduction at source (TDS) by the payers. Presently the banks, post office and credit co operative banks deduct tax if the interest exceeds Rs 10000 from FD and RD now this limit is proposed to be raised to Rs 50000. Both these provisions will effectively leave more cash in the hands of senior citizens for meeting their day today expense.
The budget has also proposed to increase the limit of deduction under Section 80 DDB for treatment of some serious ailments from Rs 60000 to Rs 1 lakh. The ailments includes various disease like dementia and parkinsons disease which many senior citizen suffer from as these are age related disease. This deduction is also available for day today expense incurred for treatment and does not necessarily require hospitalisation.
Benefit to property sellers, sellers and buyers in case of difference between apparent consideration and value computed as per circle rates for stamp duty purposes
The taxation of profits on sale of immovable property is taxed as business income for developer otherwise the same are taxed as capital gains. Computation provisions under both the situations provide that if the stated consideration is lower than the value computed based on circle rates will become taxable. Section 43CA is applicable for and Section 50C deals this situation where the immovable property is a capital asset. Under both the situations the provisions provide that where the value of apparent consideration is lower than the value as per circle rate adopted for the stamp duty payment, the difference between the two becomes taxable in the hands of the seller. If it is business asset the same becomes taxable as business income and as capital gains if the asset is held as capital asset. So even for a small difference between these two rates, the sellers are required to pay tax on circle rate valuation. In case the tax payer wishes to claim exemption by making investments under Section 54, 54F or 54 EC , the investments to be made have to be computed with reference to circle rate. So the seller of the property even has to invest the money which has never received.
Even a buyer is not spared in such a situation. The difference between circle rate value and agreement value becomes taxable in the hands of the buyer under Section 56(2) as gift in case the difference exceed Rs 50000.
In order to reduce the litigation and hardship to both the sellers and buyers for small difference between the circle rate and apparent consideration, the finance minister has proposed that the provisions of Section 43CA, 50C shall not be applicable in case the difference between these two value does not exceed 5% and the consideration as per agreement shall be treated as sale value for income tax purpose.
Likewise the buyer will also not be required to pay any tax under Section 56(2) if the difference does not exceed 5%. Even in case the difference between both these values is higher than 5%, but does not exceed fifty thousands, the buyer will not be required to pay any tax on such difference.
Restoration of standard deduction for salaried persons
The salaried class has long been demanding for restoration of standard deduction which was available till 2005. Till 2005 salaried people were allowed a flat deduction from the taxable salary without proof of any expenses. The standard deduction is justified as salaried people as a class do not have any option to minimise their tax like the self employed people who can claim personal expenses as business expenditure. Salaried people are not allowed to claim many expenses like expense incurred for updating their skills, or expenses incurred for commuting from office of home and home to office. So to meet their demand, the finance minister has proposed a flat standard deduction of Rs 40000 from salaries for salaried people. However the finance minister has played a trick here. While allowing this standard deduction of Rs 40000 to salaried people, he has withdrawn the exemption available to employees for reimbursement of medical expenses upto Rs 15000 as well as conveyance allowance which is exempt upto Rs 19200 available to the salaried people presently. So effectively the finance minister has given a relief of only Rs 5200 only for such salaried people.
The restoration of standard deduction is certainly going to be very beneficial for the salaried people who do not have these two component as part of their salary as the entire standard deduction of Rs 40000 will add to their tax free income in such situation.(Balwant Jain is a CA, CS and CFP. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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