A survey carried out by industry body Assocham has found that a majority of salaried employees want Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to increase the income tax exemption in the forthcoming Budget.
A hike in income tax exemption from Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh will lead to savings of up to Rs. 5,000 for those who fall in the Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 5 lakh tax bracket. Those in the Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh tax bracket will save up to Rs. 10,000, while those in the highest tax bracket can save up to Rs. 15,000.
Any increase in exemption in income tax would leave more money in the hands of people and will increase their purchasing power, Assocham said.
If Mr Jaitley hikes income tax exemption limit, it will be for the second time in two years that salaried employees will get a relief on taxes.
The other big expectation is about exemption on housing loans. 78 per cent of those surveyed want interest exemption on home loans to go up to Rs. 5 lakh from Rs. 2 lakh.
Property prices in the country have gone up sharply over the years and many individuals have to pay large amounts as interest for home loans. Exemption on interest on home loan was hiked by Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 2 lakh in the previous Budget.
A large number of respondents in the survey also voted for hiking exemption limit under section 80C of the Income Tax Act; the section makes investments worth Rs. 1.5 lakh on saving instruments such as fixed deposits, national saving certificates and public provident funds exempt from taxes.
"Hike in exemption limits will boost the savings rate in the Indian economy to 35 per cent of GDP from below 30 per cent currently," said Assocham secretary general D S Rawat.
88 per cent of respondents want the government to reduce the record-high duty on gold import. Import duty on gold was hiked to 10 per cent in 2013 when the economy was struggling with a high current account deficit and volatile rupee.
Nearly 82 per cent of the salaried class expects a separate deduction of Rs. 50,000 for the payment towards annuity or pension plans. Deduction of the amount paid towards annuity plans u/s 80CCC and NPS u/s 80CCD come under the threshold limit of section 80C currently.
Around 55 per cent of the survey respondents were between 25 and 29 year-old; 26 per cent fell between 30 and 39 years; 16 per cent were between 40 and 49 years. The survey was carried out among employees from 18 broad sectors, with maximum share contributed by employees from IT/ITes sector (17 per cent). It was conducted across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh, Dehradun, etc. About 500 salaried employees from the different sectors were covered by the survey from each city on an average.