Union Budget 2019: With Nirmala Sitharaman taking over the role of the Finance Minister, it certainly raises the hope what more can be done for empowering the women through the Budget.
Union Budget 2019: Beti Bachao Beti Padhao for the welfare of girl child and Ujjawala Yojana of giving LPG connections to women of BPL families, and even extending the maternity leave period for the women workers show how this government remained focused on the women section of society in its previous term. With Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman taking over the role of the Finance Minister in this term of government, it certainly raises the hope what more can be done for empowering the women through the Budget, which she is going to present on the 5th July.
Interestingly, until 2011-12, women taxpayers used to get additional tax benefit in the form of higher basic exemption limit/ tax rebate as compared to male taxpayers. But over the period of time with increase in the basic exemption limit, that differentiation went away.
We see in today’s world, women playing C-suite roles in several of the big organisations. Even they do not expect a differentiation with their male counterpart tax payers as they do understand the taxes they pay help to build the nation. However, for the middle income group women tax payers, some of the relief proposals listed below may do help improve their working conditions and/or lifestyle, particularly those living in urban areas.
# Re-introduce a higher basic exemption or allow special tax rebate for women taxpayers as it used to exist until 2011-12.
# Tax exempt the payment of conveyance allowance or reimbursement of conveyance expenses up to a certain threshold, say up to Rs 5000 per month, for the women employees.
# No tax benefit is available in respect of creche allowances/ expenses. With more nuclear families and both parents working now-a-days, reimbursement of crèche expenses or keeping a maid at home or payment of tax exempt allowance up to certain threshold (say Rs 7500 per child per month) will ensure quality upbringing of the children and also ease the pressure on working women.
# Allow separate deduction of say Rs 50,000 for the deposits made in Sukanya Samridhi Yojana (SSY) which are presently covered under section 80C limit of Rs 150,000. That will help promote savings for women.
# To encourage higher education of a girl child, cap of 8 years for allowing deduction in respect of actual interest paid on loan taken for higher education u/s 80E may be removed.
# It is common for the parents to invest money in different accounts in the name of their minor children. However, the income from these account are still clubbed in the hands of parent only with a exemption of Rs 1,500 per such minor child. This clubbing should be done away with where the minor child is girl.
# PPF is a good means of saving and investment for self-employed women. However, the annual limit of contribution to PPF is Rs 150,000 per annum right now. Considering PPF is commonly used as a means of saving, raising the limit to Rs 300,000 for women will help to save more for their future.
# There is already a lower stamp duty in many States, where a property is registered in the name of women. However, from income tax perspectives, there is no distinct advantage extended to women tax payers. An additional deduction of Rs 150,000 may be allowed for the interest on home loan taken by the women taxpayers for a self-occupied house property. Presently such interest deduction is restricted to Rs 200,000.
(By Kuldip Kumar, Partner and Leader, and Manavi Gupta, Associate Director-Personal Taxes, PwC India)
(Disclaimer: Views of the authors are personal)