1. `40,000 standard deduction introduced: This additional deduction has been proposed in place of existing deductions of `19,200 for transport allowance and `15,000 for medical reimbursement. This will benefit 2.5 crore salaried employees. Pensioners, who normally do not enjoy any allowance for transport and medical expenses, will also benefit from it. After the introduction of standard deduction, the salaried class will enjoy a flat deduction of ` 40,000 from their taxable income. The net benefit will only be ` 5,800.
2. Health and Education Cess: The finance minister also raised cess on income tax to 4 per cent from 3 per cent for individual taxpayers on the amount of income tax payable.
3. Introduction of long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax on equity investments: A new 10 per cent tax (cess extra) will be applicable on capital gains exceeding ` 1,00,000 upon sale of equity share or units of equity oriented funds. Also, no benefit of indexation will be given. However, for the benefit of tax payers, the gains till January 31, 2018, are being grand fathered. This means that only gains over January 31, 2018, prices will be taxed. In some relief, the benefit of indexation will be allowed in unlisted shares for computing long-term capital gains tax that were unlisted as on January 31, 2018.
4. Exemption from taxation of long-term capital gains invested in specified bonds.
Deduction under section 54EC is available in respect of capital gain, arising from the transfer of a long-term capital asset, invested in the long-term specified asset at any time within a period of six months after the date of such transfer. Long-term specified asset means any bond, redeemable after three years and issued on or after the 1st day of April, 2007 by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) or by the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (RECL); or any other bond notified by the Central Government. Now Section 54EC is proposed to restrict the exemption in respect of capital gain arising from the transfer of a long-term capital asset, being land or building or both only and not other capital assets. Further, it is proposed to allow the benefit when the redeemable period of specified bonds is 5 years.
5. Tax on dividend income from equity mutual funds: A tax at the rate of 10 per cent will be levied on dividend distributed by equity-oriented mutual funds.
6. More income tax benefits on single premium health insurance policies: Health insurers typically provide some discount if you pay premium for a few years upfront. But earlier, an individual could claim deduction only up to ` 25,000. Under the proposed changes in Budget 2018, in case of single premium health insurance policies having cover of more than one year, deduction will be allowed on a proportionate basis for the number of years for which health insurance cover is provided, subject to the specified limit. For example, your insurer is offering a 10 per cent discount on health insurance premium if you pay ` 40,000 for the two-year cover. Under the proposed changes, the individual can claim ` 20,000 in both years.
7. Income tax benefit on NPS withdrawal: The government has proposed an extension to the benefit of tax-free withdrawal from NPS (National Pension System) to non-employee subscribers. Currently, an employee contributing to the NPS is allowed an exemption in respect of 40 per cent of the total amount payable to him or her on closure of account or on opting out. This exemption is currently not available to non-employee subscribers. The extension of tax-free withdrawal to non-employee subscribers will be available from financial year 2018-19.
8. Deduction in respect of interest income to senior citizens: Senior citizens will get higher interest income exemption limit on deposits in banks and post offices, including recurring deposits. Currently, a deduction up to ` 10,000 is allowed under Section 80TTA of the Income Tax Act to an individual in respect of interest income from a savings account. Under the tax laws, a new Section 80TTB is proposed to be inserted to allow a deduction up to ` 50,000 in respect of interest income from deposits held by senior citizens. However, no deduction under Section 80TTA shall be allowed for senior citizens.
The government also proposed to increase the investment limit in Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana or PMVVY to ` 15 lakh from ` 7.5 lakh. It also proposed to extend the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana (PMVVY) scheme till March 2020. Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana, a scheme meant for senior citizens, offers a guaranteed interest rate of 8 per cent.