18 Jan, 2024 03:10 PM

Standard Deduction Limit, HRA, Double Taxation: Income Tax Expectations

Standard Deduction Limit, HRA, Double Taxation: Income Tax Expectations

As the nation anticipates the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in May, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is poised to unveil an interim budget on February 1, 2024. While she has indicated that major announcements may not be on the horizon for this interim budget, the economic landscape remains optimistic for India amidst global uncertainties.

With the onus on bolstering domestic demand to fuel growth, particularly through private consumption and investment spending, the interim budget is expected to be more than just a subdued fiscal exercise. Key areas of focus may include enhancing the appeal of the new tax regime, simplifying tax structures, ensuring robust tax collection, and expeditious resolution of litigations.

Here are some top expectations from individual taxpayers for Budget 2024:

1. Changes in the New Tax Regime:

Surcharge Rates:

Last year's budget aimed to make the new tax regime attractive, with the new regime becoming the default option. However, the surcharge rates for the income group of Rs 50 lakh to Rs 5 crore remained unchanged. The expectation is a reduction in surcharge rates as follows:

Taxable Income Current Surcharge Expected Surcharge
INR 50 Lakhs to INR 1 Crore 10% 5%
INR 1 Crore to INR 2 Crore 15% 10%
INR 2 Crore to INR 5 Crore 25% 15%
Exceeding INR 5 Crore 25% 25%

Standard Deduction:

Considering the rising cost of living and the absence of expense deductions under the new regime, an increase in the standard deduction from Rs 50,000 is expected.

2. Changes in the Old Tax Regime:

Metro Cities for HRA:

Taxpayers in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, defined as Metros based on various criteria, may expect an increase in the House Rent Allowance (HRA) exemption percentage from 40% to 50%.

Home Loan Interest Deduction:

To alleviate the financial burden on salaried employees, there is an anticipation of an increase in the limit for deducting home loan interest from the current Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3,00,000.

Deduction for Health Insurance Premium:

In response to the surge in health insurance costs post-COVID-19, taxpayers hope for an increase in the exemption limits for mediclaim insurance premiums from Rs 25,000/50,000 to Rs 50,000/1,00,000.

Incentivize Electric Vehicles:

To promote the adoption of electric vehicles, an extension of the timeline for maximum deduction on loans sanctioned for EV purchases beyond March 31, 2023, is anticipated.

3. Ease of Obligations for Non-Residents:

E-Verification Process for Tax Returns:

Introducing an authentication process with foreign mobile numbers for non-residents could streamline the e-verification of tax returns, minimizing paperwork and administrative complexities.

Relief from Double Taxation:

A long-awaited relief is expected for individuals claiming foreign tax credit, aligning the deadline for revised returns with the finalization of tax returns in countries with different tax year timelines.

4. Other Key Expectations:

Exemption in Respect of Provident Fund Contribution:

Clarity is sought regarding the unintended double taxation of employer annual contributions exceeding INR 7.5 lakh to Provident Fund, Superannuation, and National Pension System.

Aligning NPS Contribution Exemption with PF Contributions:

There is a call for aligning the exemption limit for employer contributions to NPS with PF contributions at a minimum of 12%, promoting increased investment in NPS for enhanced post-retirement financial security.

As the nation eagerly awaits the unveiling of the interim budget, these expectations reflect the hopes and aspirations of individual taxpayers for a more favorable and simplified tax regime

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