Union Budget 2023 is the last full budget of the government before the 2023 Lok Sabha elections. It is expected that the Government will use this opportunity to announce a growth-oriented budget with a focus on job creation and investment-driven development. Budget 2023 may also have some measures for the benefit of taxpayers as putting more money in their hands could positively impact several other sectors. That said, following are the top five expectations related to Income Tax rule changes for the benefit of taxpayers from Budget 2023.
1. Section 80C Limit Change
Deduction under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act is the most common tax-saving avenue that taxpayers avail. This section covers PPF/EPF, ELSS, NSC, NPS, SSY, and more.
The deduction limit of Rs 1.5 lakh/year under Section 80C has not been revised since 2014. The Government is expected to increase this limit to at least Rs 2 lakh/year or Rs 2.5 lakh this year. Some experts have even suggested that this limit should be increased to Rs 3 lakh.
“There has been no change in the 80C deduction for many years. The present limit of Rs 1.5 lakh was set in Finance Act 2014. Given the inflationary trends, the above limit should be increased to Rs 2.5 lakh,” says Raj Khosla Founder and MD, MyMoneyMantra.com.
Abhishek Soni, CEO and Co-Founder of Tax2win, says increasing the maximum deduction limit under Section 80C to at least Rs. 2.5 lakhs will motivate people to invest more in various tax-saving options. It will also provide relief from unprecedented inflation and help in effective tax savings.
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2. Basic Exemption Limit Change
Several Tax Experts have suggested the Government should increase the basic exemption limit under Income Tax Act to Rs 5 lakh.
At present, the basic income tax exemption limit is capped at Rs 2.5 lakhs/ year under both the new and the old income tax regimes. This means individuals earning up to Rs. 2.5 lakh are not liable to pay any taxes.
Changes through previous budgets have made annual income up to Rs 5 lakh effectively tax-free. However, the basic exemption limit has not been revised since FY 2014-15.
Soni says the exemption limit should be raised in view of rising inflation. “The annual inflation rate was increased to 6.95 per cent in March 2022, which was recorded as the highest since October 2020. Hence, to adjust the high inflation rate, an enhancement in the exemption limit should be done,” he says.
“In order to put more money in the hands of our people, the Government should also consider eliminating the tax on dividend payouts, lowering the tax bracket for investors, and increasing the basic tax exemption level from 2.5 lakhs to 5 lakhs or higher. More cash in the hands of the people will mean more money to invest,” says Puneet Maheshwari, Director, Upstox.
According to Soni, increasing the basic exemption limit will increase disposable income in the hands of consumers, increase the investment capacity of individuals and lower the effective tax rate. It will also boost economic growth.
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3. Higher Section 80D
Health expenses have increased and even become costly since the start of the pandemic. Several experts suggest that the Government should, therefore, increase the Section 80D deduction limit for health insurance. Currently, it is capped at Rs 25,000.
“Increasing the limit to claim tax deductions under section 80D will enhance affordability and encourage more people to opt for health insurance for their family and elderly parents. The Covid pandemic experience and increasing hospitalization expense is leading people to consider higher-sum insured health insurance plans which provide comprehensive coverage against all diseases. The limit increase under section 80D will encourage them to opt for a health insurance plan with the adequate sum insured to secure the health of their loved ones,” says Krishnan Ramachandran, MD and CEO at Niva Bupa Health Insurance.
4. Better Home Loan Tax Incentives
Several experts have suggested that the upcoming Budget should increase the tax exemptions on home loan principal and interest payments.
” The maximum tax deduction that can be claimed on a home loan interest payment is Rs 2 lakh per FY on a self-occupied property. However, property prices across the country have risen in the past five years. The country has also seen inflation of 6%-7% over the years. Noticing the present price bands of houses, the tax saving cap of Rs 2 lakh on housing loans as per section 24(b) needs to be increased. The limit needs to be hiked to at least Rs. 3 lakhs, regardless of the property’s price,” says Soni.
“The deduction cap on the principal amount of a home loan, which is currently set at Rs. 1.5 lakh p.a, should be increased to Rs. 4 lakh p.a. Additionally to encourage housing for all, the government should consider increasing the limit of Tax deduction on interest for housing loan from Rs 2 lakh p.a to at least Rs 5 lakh p.a,” says Kamal Khetan, Chairman & Managing Director, Sunteck Realty Ltd.
Also Read: From tax sops to incentives for affordable housing, here’s what real estate wants Budget 2023 to deliver
5. LTCG Tax Relief
Some industry experts have suggested that Government should also provide LTCG tax relief to retail mutual fund and stock investors in the market through Budget 2023.
“It will be beneficial to remove LTCG on equities, which is currently at 10% if the capital gain is more than Rs 1 lakh in a financial year. It would also be ideal to introduce tax exemption on STCG up to Rs 1 Lakh,” says Maheshwari.