Budget 2018: As the date for presenting the Union Budget 2018 nears, the common man’s expectations from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also keep rising. After all, this is the Modi government’s last full budget before the 2019 election and the FM must do his best to meet at least the reasonable demands of each and every section of society, especially the salaried class and the middle class people. Hit hard by the impact of demonetisation on the job market as well as rising prices, the common man is expecting some reduction in his tax outgo. Also, there is need for the taxpayers to be motivated to be self-compliant rather than forcing them to pay higher taxes.
Here are some top ways to reduce the income tax burden on the honest taxpayers as well as to increase the taxpayer base:
1. Need to extend housing loan interest deduction under Section 80EE
Housing loan interest deduction under Section 80EE needs to be extended by FM Arun Jaitley to each year. This deduction of Rs 50,000 interest payment on home loan was extended to home loans sanctioned during FY2016-17 up to 35 lakh for properties worth up to Rs 50 lakh until you repay the home loan completely. This was in addition to the existing home loan interest deduction of Rs 2 lakh. “This deduction should be extended in the Union Budget 2018 to loans sanctioned for all years starting FY2016-17 so that every first-time home buyer benefits in the future. The continuity in this deduction will encourage home buyers and boost demand in the affordable housing segment. Ultimately this will boost the economy,” says Chetan Chandak, Head of Tax Research at H&R Block India.
2. Setting off of loss from house property
The limit on setting off of loss from house property against any other income was set at Rs 2 lakh. Single home owners need to have this deduction without any limit so that they can claim the entire amount of interest they pay on home loans. Else, the limit can at least be set at a higher amount of Rs 5 lakh in the Budget 2018 so that the deduction is justified. Considering that reasonable properties in many cities now cost up to Rs 50 to Rs 60 lakh and loans are anywhere between Rs 40 and Rs 50 lakh, the interest deduction of Rs 2 lakh per year isn’t enough to cover the entire amount of interest paid. Moreover, carry forwards do not help much with huge amounts of interest being paid each year. This will also help in achieving the Modi government’s ‘Housing for All’ objective of the government.
Watch video: 5 blockbuster income tax moves to expect in Budget 2018
3. Taxpayers’ base need to be widened
FM Arun Jaitley should try to widen the taxpayers’ base in the Budget 2018 by tapping tax evaders. In fact, cash transactions are majorly responsible for tax evasion due to transactions going unnoticed. Incentivising digital transactions by reducing the transaction costs is a step to encourage people to digitize their financial transactions. This will lead to all transactions getting under the tax scanner and helping identify the income leakages for tax purposes. “Giving some tax concessions on digital transactions like reduced tax rates for direct as well as indirect taxes can also encourage maximum participation in digital economy. Overall this might lead to increased tax revenues by increasing the taxpayer base and help in further lowering of tax rates,” says Chandak.
4. Introduce deductibles for children to take care of parents
In the upcoming Union Budget 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should introduce deductibles for those children who are now adults and wish to take care of their parents. For example, suppose a scheme is introduced whereby the children could open retirement savings plan for their parents and claim it as deductible from their taxable income, which would be above the normal Rs 1,50,000 deduction u/s 80C. This would encourage more investments to be made, which is beneficial for the government, while the tax deduction would be a welcome relief for the tax payer.
5. Extended the benefit of presumptive taxation
The Budget 2016-17 extended the benefit of presumptive taxation to certain specified professionals such as doctors, accountants, lawyer, engineers, etc. This has helped in simplifying the taxation for these professionals. “Now there is a reasonable expectation of other small professionals that they should also get the benefit of the presumptive taxation scheme. Extending the benefit of presumptive taxation u/s 44ADA to all small professionals like carpenters, electricians, beauticians and make-up artists, photographers etc. will improve the tax compliance and also widen the taxpayer base,” informs Chandak.
6. Take a relook at some allowances
Under direct taxes, some of the allowances must be relooked at by FM Arun Jaitley in the Budget 2018, especially the medical reimbursement allowance, which has been capped at Rs 15,000 for tax-free status. “This allowance is very small to meet the needs of a family where medical bills, consultations and tests can easily set you off with that much money in a quarter itself. Therefore, this amount must be increased to at least Rs 30,000,” says Archit Gupta, Founder & CEO, ClearTax.in.