Know About Tax-Free Incomes!

FINANCE guru SPEAKS: The following are some important items of income, which are fully exempt from income tax and which a resident individual Indian assessee can use with profit for the purpose of tax planning.

1. Agricultural income
Under the provisions of Section 10(1) of the Income Tax Act, agricultural income is fully exempt from income tax. However, for individuals or HUFs when agricultural income is in excess of Rs 5,000, it is aggregated with the total income for the purposes of computing tax on the total income in a manner which results into "no" tax on agricultural income but an increased income tax on the other income.

2. Receipts from Hindu Undivided Family (HUF)
Any sum received by an individual as a member of a Hindu Undivided Family, where the said sum has been paid out of the income of the family, or, in the case of an impartible estate, where such sum has been paid out of the income of the estate belonging to the family, is completely exempt from income tax in the hands of an individual member of the family under Section 10(2).

3. Share from a partnership firm
Under the provisions of Section 10(2A), in the case of a person being a partner of a firm which is separately assessed as such, his share in the total income of the firm is completely exempt from income tax since AY 1993-94. For this purpose, the share of a partner in the total income of a firm separately assessed as such would be an amount which bears to the total income of the firm the same share as the amount of the share in the profits of the firm in accordance with the partnership deed bears to such profits.

4. Allowance for foreign service
Any allowances or perquisites paid or allowed as such outside India by the Government to a citizen of India, rendering service outside India, are completely exempt from tax under Section 10(7). This provision can be taken advantage of by the citizens of India who are in government service so that they can accumulate tax-free perquisites and allowances received outside India.

5. Gratuities
Under the provisions of Section 10(10) of the IT Act, any death-cum-retirement gratuity of a government servant is completely exempt from income tax. However, in respect of private sector employees gratuity received on retirement or on becoming incapacitated or on termination or any gratuity received by his widow, children or dependants on his death is exempt subject to certain conditions.

6. Life insurance receipts
Under Section 10(10D), any sum received under a Life Insurance Policy (LIP), including the sum allocated by way of bonus on such policy, other than u/s 80DDA or under a Keyman Insurance Policy, or under an insurance policy issued on or after 1.4.2003 in respect of which the premium payable for any of the years during the term of the policy exceeds 20 per cent of the actual capital sum assured, is fully exempt from tax.
However, all moneys received on death of the insured are fully exempt from tax. Thus, generally moneys received from life insurance policies whether from the Life Insurance Corporation or any other private insurance company would be exempt from income tax.

7. Dividends on shares and units -- Section 10(34) & (35)
With effect from the Assessment Year 2004-05, the dividend income and income of units of mutual funds received by the assessee completely exempt from income tax.

8. Long-term capital gains of transfer of securities -- Section 10(38)
With effect from FY 2004-05, any income arising to a taxpayer on account of sale of long-term capital asset being securities is completely outside the purview of tax liability especially when the transaction has been subjected to Securities Transaction Tax (STT).
Thus, if the shares of any company listed in the stock exchange are sold after holding it for a minimum period of one year then there will be no liability to payment of capital gains. This provision would even apply for the old shares which are held by an assessee and are sold after the Finance (No.2) Act, 2004 came into force.

9. Scholarship and awards, etc
Any kind of scholarship granted to meet the cost of education is exempt from tax under Section 10(16). Similarly, certain awards and rewards, etc. are completely exempt from tax under Section 10(17A).
Any daily allowance received by a Member of Parliament or by an MLA or any member of any Committee of Parliament or State legislature is also exempt from tax under Section 10(17).

10. Payment received from provident funds
Under the provisions of Sections 10(11), (12) and (13) any payment from a government or recognised provident fund (PF) or approved superannuation fund, or PPF is exempt from income tax.

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