Have you just started your first job or are you planning to file your first income tax return this year but have no clue about it? Let me tell you that you’re not alone! Every April marks the beginning of a new fiscal year, and with it comes the possibilities of better tax planning and making the right financial moves.
The clamour that I see among some of my friends each year to find avenues to save tax is something that can easily be done away with.
In the next 5 minutes, I’ll attempt to help you understand the basic concepts of income tax, and by the end, you should probably have a better idea of planning out your taxes. Come, walk with me then.
The year 2020 brought a new regime. However, before deciding on the regime to file your returns, it’s imperative to understand the difference between the two.
The new tax regime has more slabs with lower tax rates, and almost all the usual income tax exemptions present in the existing regime (oddly now referred to as the old regime) are not applicable here. With the flexibility to choose, the regime cannot be changed for the current financial year once you’ve made a choice. So it’s always advisable to compare the two regimes using online calculators before finalising.
The right choice depends entirely on your gross annual income and the tax-saving tools you have been using. When I made this choice two years ago, I took the first step to calculating my net taxable income. I did this by taking my gross income and subtracting the standard deduction of ₹50K, other exemptions like HRA, LTA, etc., the voluntary investments to avail Sec 80C deductions (LIC, PF, ELSS, NPS, etc.) and the Section 80D deductions (Medical Insurance, Critical Health Insurance etc.).
Having done this, I did another round of calculations using the new tax regime slabs with no deductions permissible. If manual calculations are not your cup of tea, you can use a host of free online calculators to arrive at your decision. The bottom line is that you should have clarity on the tax liability in both scenarios. Here is a table for easy reference while making your calculations.
In my case, specifically, I maximise my Sec 80C deductions (limit ₹1.5 Lakh). Moreover, I also claim deductions for HRA as per the permissible limit. Choosing the new tax regime will make me miss out on these, increasing my taxable income and net tax amount. So, naturally, I have stuck around with the old tax regime.
Okay, so if you have other sources of income apart from your regular salary, and your tax liability for the financial year is more than ₹10,000, you’ll have to pay something known as advance tax. Examples include rent from property, interest earned on fixed deposits or savings accounts, capital gains from selling shares of mutual funds, etc.
The calculation is fairly simple since no external factors are involved here. All you have to do is
If the extra amount exceeds ₹10K, then you are required to pay advance tax. Typically, the 15th of March of each year is the deadline for 100% payment of the advance tax. If not done, there is a penalty of 1% per month till the due amount is paid.
Fortunately, the process for payment of advance is rather simple. It can be done conveniently online on the Income Tax website and help you save on avoidable late fees and penalties.
The new tax regime doesn’t offer many deductions, and if I save on tax, then deductions are something I’ll need to maximise. So, in all fairness, it makes more sense for me to stick to the old regime. Under this, I can maximise the following deductions:
So, you see, tax planning is no rocket science. All it takes is careful consideration of your annual earnings and proper research into the various tax-saving tools available for you to invest. Pay special attention to your preferred investment horizon, and risk appetite. Don’t let tax-saving concerns carry you away and drive you into locking a chunk of your money for long periods, rendering you unable to fulfill your short or mid-term goals.
The income tax slab serves as a classification in which the government categorizes individuals' income. The tax amount you owe is determined by your earnings in a given financial year. Presently, there are two tax slab categories, known as the old regime and the new regime.
The following table provides a breakdown of the tax slabs for individuals below the age of 60 in the old regime.
In conclusion, understanding the basics of income tax is crucial for financial planning. It not only helps in fulfilling one’s legal obligations, but also in optimising one’s financial resources. By comprehending the various tax slabs, exemptions, and deductions, individuals can effectively reduce their taxable income and increase their savings. Therefore, a sound knowledge of income tax fundamentals is indispensable for every earning individual. It empowers them to make informed decisions, ensuring their hard-earned money is utilised most efficiently.
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Simply put, tax is what you pay the government as costs for running the country. It takes money to build infrastructure like roads or pay the salaries of civil servants like the Police, the army, and so on. Income tax is a way of collecting money from citizens based on how much each person earns. The more you earn, the more you pay. There are of course ways that the government lets you avoid paying taxes if you’re putting the money into something the government can use - like investing in infrastructure bonds, or taking a loan (the interest from which will go towards maintaining financial institutions).
Income tax, by definition, is something the government takes from your income. If you’re a salaried professional, you might notice the term TDS in your salary slip. This stands for Tax Deducted at Source, it means the government has already taken the tax from your salary before giving it to you.
Even if you’re not a salaried employee, you still pay income tax because you surely have some means of earning money. Here are some other types of income tax:
Depending on how much you earn and what stage of life you are in, there are different ways to save tax that could work for you. Here are some:
There are many more ways to save on tax, but here are some easy-to-set-up and effective ways to save on tax.