With demonetisation raising revenues for the government, Budget for 2017-18 may see an increase in income tax exemption limit for individual tax payers. It may also see a reduction in income tax rates.
“The monetary gains will be utilised for infrastructure development, but a part of it will also be used to spur demand in the economy and one way will be to give tax breaks to bonafide tax payers,” a top official said.
It may even be a Rs 5 lakh flat tax exemption for individual tax payers, and not other income tax rebates. The other possibility is that the government will increase the exemption from the current Rs 2.5 lakh, to Rs 3.5 lakh, and let some of the deductions continue. At present, Rs 2.5-5 lakh income is taxed at 10%, Rs 5-10 lakh at 20%, and above Rs 10 lakh at 30%. The government is currently working on various possibilities, and it will take sometime to zero-in on one, according to different sources in the government.
In case, the exemption is Rs 5 lakh, the income tax rates applicable could be 10% between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh annual income, 20% between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 20 lakh income, and 30% on income over Rs 20 lakh, according to an official, who did not wish to be identified.
The industry too has demanded a cut in income tax rates, and a steep increase in exemptions in the wake of a windfall gain to the government after the demonetisation drive. Industry has also sought a cut in maximum tax rate of 30% on individual income to 25%.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had recently said that demonetisation will not only bring back the unaccounted wealth into the economic system, it will also pave way for tax relief to honest tax payers by bringing the rates down.
At present, there are various income tax exemptions for individual tax payers and the salaried class. These include house rent allowance exemption for the salaried class, income tax exemption on leave travel allowance, and exemption on encashment of leave. Transport allowance and children education allowance are also allowed income tax exemption for salaried employees up to a certain limit.