This 20th Century formula still works, try it…

This is the digital age. The transaction on money – savings, investment, shopping, payments, loans and salaries are all now happening via electronic medium. This has also led to consolidation of information, which was once dis-aggregated and difficult to track. Now we would be able to track ALL of our transactions that we have made during the past several years via a click of the button. The transaction trail can give insights into what we earned, spent, shopped for how much or invested how much and when. Better still, we have live information via apps about how much is the bank balance, investment account balance, spending limits, credit limits and due dates of all payments via smart apps that enable us to track the universe of our financial footprint via single or multiple digital interfaces.

As a result, most of the analytics and information dashboards; if used to the full potential may become a boon to get personal finances in shape and help become financially secure. Alas, this information overload has also worked against the individual since dealing with so much information on a day to day basis and working to keep it consolidated and makes sense of it most of the times takes a toll on the individual mentally. Above, all it requires a lot of discipline on the part of the individual to stick to the plan that was formulated despite making or knowing it through smart apps.

Though these smart apps allow for functions such as budgeting and planning via different tools, in practice it never materializes due to lack of discipline and inability to stick to the same due to impulses / over information on account balances or simply easy credit facilities availed.

Spending curbs and budgeting

The need for today, whether for individuals or families is to keep spending under check and not to shoot the budget that was planned (if at all) for the year. Getting a budget at the beginning of the year for spending on essentials and discretionary items is doing the basics right. Now while all the smart apps might make it easy to roll out a yearly budget, sticking to it while juggling between apps, account, keeping a track and above all having the discipline to not use / ignore the alarms might make the most efficient budget planning exercise seem useless.

Doing it the 20th Century style

20 or 30 years ago, family budgets were done yearly with monthly spending planned during the month, usually at the beginning of the month. This was done by allocating the planned expenditure for the month and all expenses anticipated (essential and / or discretionary) and allocation done before. There used to be a small buffer for unforeseen over budget items during that month, but this could be by a small percent of that period budget. If the spending for that month exhausted the limit, then there was no further spending on that line item or that spending could be rolled over to the following month.

So visualize a typical household budget on a monthly basis with – Food/groceries, staff payments, medical, school payments, travel & transport, communication and many such as being essentials and followed by a list of discretionary spending such as dining & entertainment, short vacations, weddings/parties, shopping nick-knacks etc.

Now imagine there are monthly / annual spending limits on each of these items. The essentials would normally take a uniform run-rate for the entire period however, the discretionary items are the ones that need the regulation / budget on a monthly / annual period.

The traditional way to do this would be to allocate an envelope to each of the expenditure at the start of the month and spend only that which is allocated to that expenditure item. If the envelop goes dry before the end of the month then no further spending occurs and if the there is balance in that then it goes into the emergency envelope that is not to be touched come what may except for emergency.

This method was practiced widely and still is done by many families but due to rapid digitization and quick payment systems, this method is less prevalent. This method might be useful for individuals / families that are struggling with issues of discipline or ones that need to get habituated to such form of spending. It is very rewarding method that helps keeps budgets in control and provide for the ability to get all your spending needs address, however big or small.

If you have not tried this yet or have heard of this right now, it might be time to start on with this without further delay at least for 1 yearly budgeting cycle.

Come April 1, keep these in mind NRIs

Budget 2020 and action items for nrisfirst came the shock and that followed by some clarifications. Nris, it appeared would be taxed on the global incomes here in india. While that seemed onerous and unfair, it was later clarified that it applies to only those who tax residency is ambiguous. Also, the tax net now falls on nri who have incomes generated here in india but still did not end up paying taxes. A few of the important changes and clarifications provided by the government that impact the nri community from april are –1. Nri are liable to pay taxes on the global income in an event their residency status is ambiguous or cannot be established2.

Nri’s located in tax-free jurisdictions (like the middle east and having residency there) are not impacted. 3. Nri will continue as before to pay taxes on their incomes earned in india#1 is the most important change or rather a loophole that has been plugged during the current budget that is applicable from april 1, 2020. There are number of nris who are wealthy and do not have any single permanent residency status and often end up dodging many tax jurisdictions. These individuals would now be liable to pay taxes on their global income here in india. This loophole has therefore been plugged, however, there can still be many tax-free jurisdictions that might offer an escape route for the nris like in the middle east or other tax havens with liberal residency laws. #2 has been more of a clarification in the post budget interaction sessions and this therefore is a status quo from the earlier period where tax-free domiciled residents will not be taxed on the income from those jurisdictions as has been the case till now. #3 as a result applies to nri to pay taxes on all indian origin incomes as before.

There has been a clarification that this will not change. Residency provisions tweakedanother anti-abuse provision that was used by some nri was the rule of no. Of days stay. Now the rule of minimum 183 day stay out of india for being nri has been raised to 240 days and this makes frequent travellers claiming nri status a little more difficult. Another loophole being plugged, albeit partially.

Your Checklist On Taxes For The Financial Year End!

We are just a few days to go before this financial year (2019-20) comes to a close. Though you have time till July 31st, 2020 to file your income tax returns, there are a number of activities that you need to do by March 31st, 2020 to claim the benefits in this assessment year (AY 2020 – 21). The finance minister came out with a series of extensions in dates till June 30th, 2020; but this is restricted mainly to tax saving investments.   Thus, you may have a bit of a breather on your tax saving investments.  Here is a checklist of items that you should go through to make sure that you have availed all the tax benefits available under different provisions of the Income Tax Act.

 

  • Set off your capital gains for the year with the losses:  If you do have capital gains for the year upto January 2020 when markets were relatively buoyant, you would have a number of stocks or even mutual funds that would be showing losses.  You can book some losses and set off the capital gains. You would want to optimise your capital gains in a difficult year. Do check if you have exit loads on your mutual funds before booking the losses.  This needs to be executed by March 31 for one to avail of the benefit.
  • Section 80C: You can claim deduction of up to Rs 1.5 lakhs from your gross taxable income by investing in schemes eligible u/s 80C. These schemes are EPF, VPF, PPF, NSC, tax saver bank FDs, life insurance premiums, mutual fund ELSS etc. Tax payers who are not getting a salaried income and not having PF and other tax saving investments must make sure that they avail maximum benefits. Senior citizens and parents of girl children can claim deductions by investing in Senior Citizens Savings Scheme and Sukanya Samruddhi Yojana subject to the overall Rs 1.5 lakhs 80C limit. Investors paying home loan EMIs can claim deduction for principal payments made during the financial year. Benefit extended till June 30th.
  • Section 80D (Medical insurance): You can claim Rs 25,000 of additional deduction for medical insurance premiums for yourself and your family (seni or citizens can claim up to Rs 50,000). You can claim a further deduction of Rs 25,000 for medical insurance premiums of dependent parents (Rs 30,000 if your parents are senior citizens).  Benefit extended till June 30th.
  • Section 80CCD (NPS): You claim additional Rs 50,000 deduction, over and above Section 80C limit of Rs 1.5 lakhs, by investing in National Pension Scheme. You can claim total deduction of Rs 2 lakhs by investing Rs 1.5 lakhs u/s 80C and Rs 50,000 in NPS. Benefit extended till June 30th.
  • Section 24 (Interest payment on home loan): You can claim up to Rs 2 lakhs deduction for interest payments in your home loan EMI for self-occupied house. If you are paying home loan EMIs for a let out house, the loss is restricted to Rs 2 lakhs in a financial year.
  • Section 80E (Interest payment on higher education loan): If you have taken loan for your, spouse or children’s higher education, then the entire interest payment can be claimed as deduction from your gross taxable income.
  • Section 80G (donations to charities): Donation made to tax exempt charities is allowed to be claimed as deduction at the rate of 50% or 100% (of the contributed amount) depending on the charity and as per approval granted by prescribed income tax authorities.

 

  • Check your surcharge bracket:  You maybe able to claim exemptions/deductions and set off your losses to reduce your net income to below the surcharge brackets (Rs 50 lakh / 1 Cr / 2 Cr / 5 Cr) if your income is on the border.  Plan before March 31st, because only tax saving investments are extended till June 30th.

 

  • Pay Advance Tax by March 31st: Tax payers who have income from other sources (e.g. rent, FD interest, capital gains etc) should make sure that they pay advance tax by March 31st, 2020. If you have worked in two different companies, you are likely to have to pay additional taxes for the year when you consolidate the two form 16s. If do not pay Advance Tax on time, you will have to pay interest @ of 0.75% per month of delayed tax payment (reduced from 1% per month for the period upto June 30th), even if you file your IT returns on time. For example, if your tax obligation over and above tax deducted at source (TDS) on March 31st is Rs 5 lakhs, you will have to pay Rs 16,250 as interest if you are filing your ITR and paying tax on July 31st

Summary

You can save a lot of money in taxes by availing the benefits available under different provisions of Income Tax Act. In this article, we have shared with you a checklist of items that you should review and make sure that you get maximum benefits. In addition to the tax savings avenues shared in this article, there may be other depending on your specific situations. If you need help with your tax planning feel free to email us at contactus@righthorizons.com .