You can claim HRA and home loan benefits
Individuals can avail tax benefits under House Rent Allowance (HRA) and home loan deductions independently. While HRA is covered under the section 10(13A) Rule 2A, home loans are entitled for tax benefits under section 80C (tax benefit on principal repayment) and Section 24 (tax benefit on interest payment) of the Income Tax Act.
Ajit, currently employed with Company A, is staying in a rented apartment in Mumbai and has bought himself a property in Chennai for which he has taken a home loan. He finds himself in a dilemma while filing tax returns – “Can I claim both HRA and home loan benefits?” This seems to be a confusing factor for most tax payers. When Ajit pays rent, under the Income tax act, he is definitely allowed to claim both HRA and home loan benefits (interest payment and principal repayment).
Let us evaluate various possible situations an individual can find himself in and understand what the income tax act permits him to do.
You live in your own house
You have taken a home loan and residing in the same house, you will not be able to claim HRA. However, you will be able to claim tax benefits on both, the principal and interest repaid on the home loan.
You own a house in another city
This situation was the one faced by Ajit. He resided in Mumbai but had bought an apartment in Chennai and took home loan for the same. Ajit will be entitled to HRA exemption and tax benefits on both, the principal and interest repaid on the home loan.
Your house cannot be occupied at this point
You have bought a house in Mumbai taking a home loan and you are currently living in Mumbai in a rented apartment as the property is under construction? In such a case, you are eligible to claim HRA.
In the case of tax breaks on the home loan, you can claim tax benefits only for your principal before the completion of your house. Once your house is completed, you can claim tax benefits on the total interest paid upto the date of completion in five equal instalments in five years beginning from the year of completion.
You have a house which is ready for occupation but you cannot reside in it
You have bought a house in Delhi taking a home loan and now you are not residing in it but are living in a rented apartment in Delhi itself for genuine reasons e.g. the house that you have bought is far away from your office. In such cases, the Income Tax Act permits the individual to claim HRA and home loan benefits, which includes both principal and interest repaid on the home loan.
Also, note that if your house remains vacant, then you will still need to pay tax on a notional rent income.
You have rented your own house and currently residing in a rented house
You took a home loan and your house is now ready for possession. You have rented out while you reside in a rented house. The Income Tax Act allows you to claim both HRA and home loan benefits. However, in such a case, since you are the recipient of rent because you have let out your own house, that income is taxable at your hands.
The Income Tax Act treats HRA and home loan deductions under separate sections independently. The two are not interconnected to each other. HRA is dealt with in section 10(13A) Rule 2A while home loans are entitled for tax benefits under section 80C (tax benefit on principal repayment) and Section 24 (tax benefit on interest payment) of the Income Tax Act. Hence, feel free to avail both tax benefits accordingly.
Now, that we have dealt with all possible situations with regard to availing HRA and home loan tax benefits, let's take Ajit's situation as an example to help you figure out how to avail them.
Claiming tax benefits on a home loan
Ajit had purchased an apartment in Chennai for Rs 38 lakh three years back. He took a home loan of Rs 32 lakh to fund this house purchase. So far, this year he has repaid an interest of Rs 3.3 lakh and a principal amount of Rs 60,000.
Section 80C offers tax rebate on principal repayment up to a limit of Rs 1.5 lakh while Section 24 offers tax benefit on interest upto a limit of Rs 2 lakh. So, Ajit can utilise upto Rs 2 lakh on his interest paid and avail the tax benefits in full for the amount paid towards principal.
Calculating tax benefits on HRA
Ajit earns a basic salary of Rs 40,000 per month and has rented an apartment in Mumbai for Rs 20,000 per month (he is eligible for 50 per cent of the basic pay for HRA exemption, as he resides in a metro). The actual HRA he receives is Rs 25,000. There would be three scenarios under which calculation have to be done-
Amount received as HRA from employer = Rs. 25,000 X 12(months) = Rs 3,00,000
Actual rent paid less 10% of basic = (Rs. 20,000 X 12) – Rs. 48,000 = Rs. 1,92,000
50% of basic salary since he lives in a metro = Rs 2,40,000
The value considered for his actual HRA exemption will be the least value of the above figures. Hence, the taxable HRA amount for Ajit will be Rs 1,92,000 i.e. Rs 16,000 per month.
Also, the landlord's PAN card is mandatory for rent exceeding Rs 1,00,000 per year. The landlord can provide a self-declaration in case if he/she doesn't have a PAN card. If your landlord is an NRI, you must deduct 30 per cent tax from the rent amount that needs to be declared.