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Tax exemption increase to Rs 5 lakhs for 80 years old: Budget 2011-12
March, 01st 2011

After the big bang restructuring of the income slabs in the last Budget, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee chose to restrict additional tax relief to the more vulnerable segments of the population, namely the senior citizens and those at the bottom of the tax pyramid.

He has also sought to reduce the burden of compliance for certain categories of the salaried taxpayers and small businesses and attempted to correct the anomaly in tax treatment of the New Pension System (NPS). Thus, tax exemption limit for men below 60 years was increased by 20,000 to 1.8 lakh and for senior citizens by 10,000 to 2.5 lakh.

Women were not given any additional relief, perhaps as the Direct Taxes Code to be implemented next year does away with gender-based tax exemption. Alongside, the qualifying age for senior citizen benefit was lowered to 60 years from the existing 65 years and a new category of very senior citizens was introduced.

Individuals aged 80 years or more will enjoy tax exemption on annual taxable income of 5 lakh, translating into a relief of 26,780. Effectively, an 80-year old individual with annual taxable income of 5 lakh will have no tax liability.

The savings for other senior citizens range from 1,030 to 9,270. The reduction of the minimum age for senior citizens is in line with the normal retirement age.

Kaushik Mukerjee , executive director, tax & regulatory services, PwC India contends that the minimum age for very senior citizens should have been 70 years, as that would have given relief to people who were neither able to invest in pension schemes introduced during the last decade nor benefit from the post millennium economic boom. Compliance burden of small businesses is sought to be lightened with a new form, Sugam.

All those who fall within the scope of presumptive taxation, mostly those who pay nominal taxes on their income from business, can henceforth file their returns using this form. The Budget has also tweaked the tax treatment of contributions to the NPS, aligning it with that of the statutory provident fund.

The employers contribution to the employees pension account will no longer be included in the 1 lakh ceiling under Section 80C. This should nudge individuals to save more instead of relying on their employer's contribution to fetch them tax benefits under Section 80C.

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