Friday, 9 November 2012

Things you should know about HRA & Tax benefits


   House Rent Allowance (HRA), is an important component in our salary slips, with upto 30% of basic pay (+DP) in metros. HRA is the allowance given to meet the staff's expenses towards renting an accommodation. Though very simple in concept and calculation, the tax implications of the HRA, puzzles many a people. Here are 7 must knows, to help you utilise this component of your salary in a tax efficient manner.
1) Conditions you need to satisfy for a HRA exemption
Under Section 10 of the Income Tax Act, certain exemptions are permissible on the received HRA. To claim such exemptions one must satisfy the below conditions.
The employee must not own the property in which he is residing.
Employees must be paying rent for the accommodation in which residing.
Such rent must be more than 10 per cent of his/her salary (see section 5).  
if not, an exemption cannot be availed if there is no HRA component in the salary.
2) Calculating HRA for tax exemption
HRA tax exemption is based on the HRA received, basic pay, actual rent paid as well as if you stay in metro or non-metro. The amount exempted from the tax calculations is the least of the following.
The actual rental allowance paid by the employer as part of the salary.
The actual rent paid, from which, 10% of the basic pay is deducted,
50% of the basic salary if residing in a metro or 40% if in a non-metro.
3) HRA benefits in case of rent paid to parents
If you are residing in a house owned by your parents and you are paying rent to them, technically, they are the landlords. You could, thus, claim an exemption, provided they show the same transaction in their income tax returns.
Rent to husband/wife are not permissible, as a husband and wife relationship is not considered commercial and are also are meant to stay together.
4) Proof to be submitted for HRA claims
If the house rent paid is upto Rs. 3000 per month, then rent receipt is not mandatory. Otherwise you will have to submit the rent receipt proofs to claim the tax deduction. A one rupee revenue stamp affixed with the signature of landlord receiving the rent, with other details of the rented address, rent paid and name of the person who rents it, need to be mentioned on the receipt.
5) Meaning of salary for HRA calculation
Salary for HRA purposes is as follows:
Basic salary (Basic Pay plus Dearness Pay)
Dearness Allowance
Commissions earned if any
This salary will not include arrears of earlier years, received during the previous year for which the claim is made.
6) You could claim HRA exemption as well as a home loan tax benefit at the same time
HRA exemption could be availed even if you are claiming a home loan tax benefit. For a home loan, tax benefits are available towards the repayment of principal. So, as long as you meet the criteria for a home loan deduction as well for a HRA exemption, you could go ahead and claim both tax benefits. This could be possible, in cases where you may be working in another city.
7) Period in which HRA exemption can be claimed
The period in which the HRA is actually received from the employer, must necessarily pertain to the period in which the employee actually pays rent for his accommodation. In case HRA is received for a period in which no rental accommodation is occupied by the employee, exemption cannot be claimed.



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