Which part of salary is exempt from taxes in India? Expert explains

Allowances can be exempt if they are used for the purpose specified

By NRI Problems/H. P. Ranina

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Published: Tue 20 Jun 2023, 3:37 PM

Last updated: Wed 21 Jun 2023, 11:51 AM

My wife has been working in India though I have been in the Gulf for the past ten years. She has recently got a new job and the company has offered to pay her allowances in addition to the basic salary on the ground that these will be exempt from tax. Can you tell me which allowances are tax-free under Indian laws?

Allowances are exempt subject to the condition that the amounts are actually spent by the employee for the precise object for which they are given. Leave travel allowance is exempt only if it is spent for travel within India for which documents are required to be submitted to the company. Therefore, if your wife travels to the Gulf out of the funds of the leave travel allowance, she will have to pay tax in India. An allowance given for official travel is fully exempt from tax so long as it is spent for this purpose. An allowance given for academic research and training pursuits in educational and research institutions is fully exempt. In addition, an allowance granted to meet expenditure incurred on a helper where such a person is engaged for the performance of the duties of employment is also made exempt from tax. Therefore, if your wife employs a chauffeur to drive a vehicle owned by her during the course of her duties of employment, the salary paid to the driver out of this allowance would be exempt from tax.

As a bank customer in India, I find that the service from executives is not up to the mark. Being an NRI, I have to deal with them by e-mail. More often than not, they are more interested in selling investment and insurance products rather than providing banking services. Are steps being taken to tone up the administration?

H. P. Ranina is a practising lawyer, specialising in tax and exchange management laws of India.
H. P. Ranina is a practising lawyer, specialising in tax and exchange management laws of India.

The Reserve Bank of India had constituted a committee to suggest measures to improve services to customers. Dealing with the issue of complaints made by customers in respect of KYC updates, the committee has recommended the creation of a centralised database of KYC documents. It has also been suggested that banks must ensure uninterrupted account operations during the period of KYC updates. Further, to help senior citizens, the committee has recommended that banks should allow their authorised relatives to conduct bank operations on their behalf. In fact, the Reserve Bank has highlighted the need for banks to take serious action against bank employees where they are found to be deficient in rendering service and even sack them as part of the governance and risk management strategy. The board of directors at banks should appraise management performance objectively and, in appropriate cases, executives should be held accountable for their actions. Auditors of banks have also been authorised to check on mis-selling of investment and insurance products and ensure that pledged assets are released expeditiously on repayment of loans.

My son is an engineering graduate specialsing in IT services. He has received offers from IT services companies as well as from well-known firms which have set up global capability centres in India. He seems to prefer the second job offer. Would he be right in doing so?

Most of the IT services companies worldwide are now localizing their talent by employing their own citizens. Therefore, the prospects for Indian techies to work abroad are fast dwindling and there may not be long term prospects. Hence, most fresh graduates are looking for employment in global capability centres (GCCs), which are set up by foreign companies in India. The reason is that these give opportunities for working in long term projects that help techies to have a better learning curve. At IT services companies, techies are hired for projects for other customers and once the project is completed, the services may get terminated. Therefore, candidates look for jobs at GCCs where they get opportunities to work on technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, etc. Even in terms of remuneration, the prospects are better in GCCs as they want to retain talent and give hefty increments and other perquisites.

H. P. Ranina is a practising lawyer, specialising in tax and exchange management laws of India.


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