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10 most overlooked tax deductions
February, 03rd 2010

It is that time of the year again when people start looking for ways to lower their tax bill. After all, theres nothing more demoralizing than watching your hard-earned income get slashed by taxes.

Still, every year lakhs of taxpayers overpay their taxes just by overlooking the breaks they deserve. The prime reason being that tax claims and deductions have been the most cumbersome process for an individual, and one is more likely to forget some breaks while making a claim.

You can, however, cut your tax bill just by claiming all the breaks you deserve. Here we take a look at some of the most overlooked tax deductions:

1) Tuition fee paid for the education of children

Believe it or not, but many taxpayers often forget to claim deduction in respect of the tuition fee paid for the education of their children.

Deduction, however, is available to an individual under Section 80C of the I-T Act in respect of tuition fees (excluding any payment towards any development fees or donation or payment of similar nature), whether paid at the time of admission or thereafter to any university, college, school or other educational institution situated within India for the purpose of full-time education of any of the children of the individual.

2) Interest on loan taken for higher education

Taxpayers also tend to forget that the interest paid on an education loan taken for higher studies qualifies for deduction under Section 80E of the I-T Act. Also, effective April 1, 2008, the said deduction is also available where the loan is taken for the purpose of higher education of spouse or children of the individual or the student for whom the individual is a legal guardian, says Sonu Iyer, tax partner, Ernst & Young. Thus, if you have taken a loan for higher education, dont forget to make your claim. Also remember that the deduction benefit on interest is allowed for maximum eight years, or till the interest is fully paid.

3) Charitable deductions

Deduction is also available under Section 80G of the I-T Act in respect of donations made by an individual to certain funds, charitable institutions and so on. There is no restriction on the amount of charity.

The rate of deduction, however, is either 50 or 100 per cent, depending on the choice of trust. Also, donations must be made to registered institutions only.

Taxpayers generally forget to claim such deductions as they generally do not have the receipts or simply tend to lose the receipts by the end of the year, when they file the return, says Vikas Vasal, executive director, KPMG.

4) Home improvement

Expenditure incurred by an individual on repair and maintenance of house property and interest paid on loan taken for such repairs and maintenance of house property are allowed as deduction while computing income from house property. Thus, if you have gone for any home improvement project, dont forget to make your claim.

5) Deductions in respect of rent paid

Deduction to the extent of Rs 2,000 per month or 25 per cent of total income (whichever is less) is available under Section 80GG of the I-T Act in respect of rent paid by an individual on his accommodation, provided the individual does not get any house rent allowance.

6) Foreign taxes paid

Foreign Tax Credits may be claimed by an individual in respect of doubly-taxed income which is taxed in India as well as in a foreign country provided the conditions as prescribed under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between India and the foreign country are satisfied.

Further, if there is no Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between India and the foreign country, credits may also be claimed under the Act, subject to specified conditions, informs Iyer.

7) Per diems

Per diems (allowance for daily expenses) are exempt from tax under Section 10(14)(i) of the Act read with Rule 2BB(1)(b) of the Income-Tax Rules, 1962, if the same are actually incurred on ordinary daily charges while the employee is on tour and absent from his normal place of duty.

8) Person with disability

Under Section 80U of the Act, an individual who is certified by the prescribed medical authority to be a person with disability shall be allowed a deduction of Rs 50,000 and an individual, who is certified as a person with severe disability, shall be allowed a deduction of Rs 75,000.

Further, under Section 80DD of the Act, where an individual has incurred expenditure for the medical treatment, training and rehabilitation of a dependant, being a person with disability or has paid or deposited any amount under prescribed scheme for the maintenance of dependant, such individual will be allowed a deduction to the extent of Rs 50,000. However, if the dependent is suffering from severe disability, a deduction of Rs 75,000 will be allowed, says Iyer.

9) Medical treatment of specified ailments

Deductions of expenses on medical treatment of specified ailments (such as AIDS, cancer and neurological diseases) can be claimed under Section 80DDB.

The maximum amount of deduction allowed from gross total income is restricted to Rs 40,000 (which goes up to Rs 60,000 if the age of the person treated is 65 years or more) on condition that no medical reimbursement is received from any insurance company or employer for this amount.

In order to claim this deduction, however, you will have to submit Form 10-1 from a specialist doctor working in a government hospital in India, confirming the treatment of the disease.

10) Profit on sale of property used for residence

It would also help to remember that capital gains arising from the transfer of residential property is exempt from tax in the hands of individual under Section 54 of the Act to the extent expenditure is incurred on the purchase of another residential house within a period of one year before or two years after the date of transfer or expenditure is incurred on construction of a house property within a period of three years after the date of transfer, says Iyer.

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