Tax planning: Invest only after evaluating the options

The goal of tax planning is to arrange your financial affairs in a manner that it minimizes the impact of taxes. This should also play a major role in the financial planning and investment decisions to meet the long term financial needs of an individual. In a country like India where we do not have a social security, it is also important to secure the future of the family as a part of financial planning. With intent to promote savings the government provides various tax benefit schemes on different financial planning tools. It is extremely important for an individual to understand these benefits and align their long term financial needs in a manner which maximizes the tax benefits.

How to plan for tax savings.

Tax planning needs to be “planned” and have to be done with extreme care, after a detailed research and understanding of the options on offer. However, most taxpayers tend to defer this decision to March and then rush into putting their money into anything and everything with the sole objective of saving tax for the year. As a result, the returns are likely to be not commensurate to the amount invested and might not serve financial planning needs.It is therefore of utmost importance that one must do his planning in a timely manner with focus on products that can result in good returns as well as help in saving tax . Also, the product must be chosen based on their long term merits and in such a manner that multiple life goals can be fulfilled.

Tax planning opportunities-

Pension / Retirement Plans.

Most insurance companies offer pension plans which provide option to save when you are earning and thereafter receive pension/ annuity based on your future needs. One can avail benefit of up to Rs. 1.5 lakh on the premium paid towards a pension plan under Section 80CCC. On maturity, one-third of the maturity amount withdrawn is tax-free. Based on risk appetite, one can decide either for a unit-linked or a traditional plan and opt for pension after a defined time frame.

Life Insurance.

One of the most efficient tax planning tools is life insurance which provide financial security and good returns as well as offer tax saving benefits. There are a variety of products available and one can opt for them based on individual

Seven ways your family can help you save taxes

Your family is always there to give you support – not just emotional, but sometimes financial as well. For instance, your family members can be of great help for saving on taxes. However, all your investments and spending for your family are not eligible for tax rebates. There are rules and some of them are pretty complex. To make things simpler, here we list 7 perfectly legal ways your family can assist you cut your tax bill.
1. Buy health insurance for the family:

Section 80C investments should be guided by your needs

The last few months of the financial year are addressed towards ensuring that the tax benefits that are available are utilised effectively. One of the most widely used benefits covers the deduction under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act and while making use of this there is a need to take a careful look at the overall strategy that one is following. This will ensure that there is no wastage of funds and that the best use of the money is possible. There are a few parameters that can be followed for this purpose and here is a detailed look at what an individual investor needs to do in this regard.

Reach the limit.

One of the first things that people with a high income needs to do is to ensure that they are making the full use of the Section 80C limit available under the Income Tax Act. This is Rs 1.5 lakh per annum and if there is no full use of the limit then it would mean that some amounts that could have been taken have been allowed to lapse. This can result in a rise in the tax liability as the reduction of the amount from the taxable income is less. The overall limit that is being utilised by the existing investments should be checked and there should be a plan to ensure that the figure that is required is achieved during the year. Some of the options that are suitable for last minute investing include those like PPF, NSC and for senior citizens the Senior Citizens Savings Scheme.

Do not make excess investments.

There are times when the individual will realise that they have already crossed the limit of Rs 1.5 lakh that has been allowed and their eligible investments are already above this figure. This is a tricky situation because it could mean that there are some additional investments that are not required but are still being made and hence an effort needs to be undertaken to try and cut down the investments. This is difficult because in some cases it might not be possible to do so with an example being the payment of an insurance premium where if this is curtailed then the benefits on the policy can be terminated. This is the reason why any investment should be checked for its future impact before it is actually made rather than during this exercise after the process has been completed. An overall review of the excess investments will show whether there can be some investments that can be cut down and the money directed elsewhere.

Actual need.

For some people there might not be the need to make the full use of the Section 80 C deduction because they might not have the necessary income that can be reduced by the investments. Take for example someone who has a total income of just Rs 3.5 lakh. In this case since there is no higher inflow that is present the individual need not invest more than Rs 1 lakh in order to bring down their tax liability to zero. The basic exemption limit is Rs 2.5 lakh for those below 60 years and hence this plus the Rs 1 lakh deduction will reduce the taxable income to Nil. This means that there would be a reduced pressure on the finances of the individual in trying to make the highest use of the available limits because there might not be the need for such an effort. This can help in the overall financial planning process because it will free up the amounts that can be used effectively for some other investment that can actually yield better benefits in terms of the achievement of other goals. Or it could be that the investment can yield higher returns than what would have come had the amount just been directed towards tax saving debt investments.

Investing: Save tax, maximise returns


For salaried employees, investments for tax planning must have prudent asset allocation of debt and equity. This will ensure that such investments made every year not only save on tax outgo but also build a corpus in the long-run, which is inflation protected.

At present, one of the most important components of tax savings is Section 80 C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. An individual can invest up to R1.5 lakh in a fiscal year in financial instruments like Public Provident Fund (PPF), life insurance premiums, five-year bank or post office fixed deposits, five or 10-year National Savings Certificates of India Post, employee’s contribution to provident fund, Equity-Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS) of mutual funds and unit-linked insurance plans (Ulips) of life insurance companies. Moreover, a tax-payer can avail an additional exemption under Section 80CCD of R50,000 by investing in government’s National Pension Scheme which is a mix of equity and debt instruments.


Tax rules NRIs need to know for realty deals

Non-resident Indians (NRIs) may sell their property in India, either to seek capital appreciation on their investments, or they may want to dispose of their properties in India in order to acquire some assets in their country of residence. It is imperative that they understand the applicable tax rules and regulations with respect to such a transaction.

Any profit earned through sale of property is taxable as capital gains. In case the property is held for more than 36 months, the gains are classified as long-term capital gains (LTCG); else, they will be classified as short-term capital gains (STCG). STCG is taxable at the applicable slab rates; however, LTCG on the sale of property is taxed at a beneficial rate of 20%.

The law also allows an indexation benefit in case of LTCG. Indexation basically factors for the effect of inflation by applying the cost inflation index (CII) resulting in a higher Cost of Acquisition (CoA).

NRIs are entitled to claim certain exemptions while calculating the taxable LTCG under the Act, as below:

Investment in property: The individual taxpayer may claim exemption of LTCG arising on sale of a residential house property/ land, through purchase of another residential house in India. LTCG on sale of a residential house property can be claimed to the extent of capital gains utilised LTCG on sale of a land can be claimed to the extent of sale consideration utilised. To avail this benefit, one must ensure that the new house property should be purchased within one year before or two years after the sale; or this can be claimed if a new property is constructed in India within three years from the date of sale of property.

Investment in specified bonds: LTCG can be claimed as exempt from tax if the capital gain is invested in specified bonds (NHAI and RECL bonds), within six months from the date of sale of property, up to R50 lakh.

NRIs may further evaluate the benefits as may be available under the relevant Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement which India has with their country of residence while computing their capital gains tax liability in India. For the sale of property by NRI, the buyer is under an obligation to deduct tax at source while making the payment of sales consideration.

Tax is required to be deducted @ 20% in case of LTCG and at applicable slab rates in case of STCG. The mechanism of such tax deduction at source was introduced by the government in order to ensure the appropriate collection of tax from NRIs who are mostly based out of India.

As the above mentioned benefits and exemptions can only be claimed by the NRIs at the time of filing their India tax return, they need to apply for Tax Exemption Certificate from the I-T department if they would like Nil/ lower tax deduction on such transaction.

Under Section 197 of the Act, NRIs can obtain Tax Exemption Certificate on the basis of estimated capital gains tax computation and submission of relevant documents. After going through the information furnished by the NRI, the jurisdictional Assessing Officer/ Tax Officer may issue a certificate authorising the buyer of property to deduct tax at a lower rate or nil rate as the case may be.

What to expect from Budget 2016?

As is human nature, we place high expectations on our governments. Especially those running on a massive mandate, have too many promises to keep.

Our government though has a lot going on. Given the connected world we live in, our economy is not immune to global challenges. There are a bunch of domestic challenges too. Businesses want GST to take shape, while the common man wants more money in their pockets. Keeping 1.2 billion people happy is not an easy job. What then is a reasonable expectation from the finance minister this budget, let

Tax payers can now e-verify income tax returns using bank, demat account details

“Currently an Income-Tax Return or ITR can be e-verified by using internet banking, email or an Aadhaar number- generated One Time Password (OTP).”

In a bid make e-verification of tax returns simpler, the Income-Tax Department has included bank account and demat account details among the modes that can be used to generate code to e-verify ITRs.

Currently an Income-Tax Return or ITR can be e-verified by using internet banking, email or an Aadhaar number- generated One Time Password (OTP).

To these, two more modes of bank account and share demat account have been added for generating an electronic verification code (EVC) that is used to submit annual ITRs.

The measures are intended towards ending the practice of sending paper acknowledgement of ITRs to CPC, Bengaluru.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has added two additional modes for generation of electronic verification code (EVC) for e-verification of ITRs.

The efiling website of the I-T department would now provide a facility to pre-validate bank account details. The assessee will have to provide bank account number, IFSC code, email id, and mobile number and these details will be validated against the details of the tax payer registered with the bank.

“Generated EVC will be sent by e-filing portal to taxpayers’s email id and or mobile number verified from bank,” a CBDT notification said.

The list of banks which will participate in this facility would be provided on the efiling website.

As regards generation of EVC using Demat account details, the CBDT said the assess would have to provide demat account number, email id and mobile number. This details, along with Permanent Account Number (PAN), would be validated against the information with depository (CDSL/NSDL).

“Generated EVC will be sent by e-filing portal to email id and or mobile number verified from CDSL or NSDL,” CBDT said.

After the EVC is generated, it can be put in the ITR form for final submission.

“Despite of all the efforts of the government to go green and paperless, the mandate of providing Aadhaar Number at the time of filing the return of income prevented e-filing from becoming a completely paperless process for those who did not have an Aadhar Card,” Nangia & Co Executive Director Neha Malhotra said.

Last year the tax department launched its ambitious One Time Password (OTP) based e-filing verification system for taxpayers using the Aadhaar number.

According to experts, bank account detail based EVC generation is a more reasonable mode for e-verification. It would be now easier for small tax payers as mostly all of them have bank accounts, even if they do not have Aadhaar numbers.

“With Jan Dhan Yojna, even the small taxpayers have a bank account and thus can complete easily complete the return filing process,”