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Dearness Allowance (DA) – Meaning, Types, DA Calculation & Taxes

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  • Post published:November 1, 2023
  • Post category:Taxation


Dearness Allowance (DA)

In public sector employment, remuneration packages often extend beyond just the basic salary, encompassing various components designed to create a more comprehensive and attractive compensation structure. One such crucial component that plays a pivotal role in the lives of government employees and pensioners is Dearness Allowance, commonly referred to as DA. This article delves into the meaning of Dearness Allowance, its types, the intricate calculations involved, and its implications for income tax.

Understanding Dearness Allowance

Dearness Allowance serves as a financial lifeline the government provides to both its active employees and retirees, known as pensioners. Its primary objective is to counterbalance the relentless impact of inflation on living expenses, ensuring that the effective salary of government employees retains its purchasing power. Despite the government’s efforts to curb inflation, the market-driven nature of price fluctuations necessitates the provision of DA.

The unique aspect of Dearness Allowance lies in its variability, as it caters to the individual circumstances of employees. DA is calculated with consideration for the geographical location of the employee, categorizing them into urban, semi-urban, or rural sectors. This differentiation is essential as the effects of inflation can vary widely depending on where one resides.

Calculation of Dearness Allowance

The calculation of Dearness Allowance is a meticulously designed process that ensures that employees receive adequate compensation to offset the price rise during a financial year. DA is recalculated twice a year, specifically in January and July. The formula for calculating DA has evolved over the years and differs between Central Government and Public Sector Employees.

For Central Government Employees:

DA% = [(Average of AICPI (Base Year 2001 = 100) for the last 12 months – 115.76) / 115.76] x 100

For Public Sector Employees:

DA% = [(Average of AICPI (Base Year 2001 = 100) for the last 3 months – 126.33) / 126.33] x 100

Here, AICPI stands for the All-India Consumer Price Index.

Tax Implications of Dearness Allowance

In recent updates, it is important to note that Dearness Allowance is now fully taxable for salaried employees. If an employee also receives unfurnished rent-free accommodation, a portion of their DA may be considered as part of their retirement benefit salary, subject to specific preconditions. This taxable nature of DA necessitates a separate mention of the DA component in the income tax returns filed by employees.

Types of Dearness Allowance

Dearness Allowance can be categorized into two distinct types: Industrial Dearness Allowance (IDA) and Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA).

Industrial Dearness Allowance (IDA): This type applies to public sector employees of the Central Government. IDA is subject to quarterly revisions, influenced by the Consumer Price Index, which is essential to mitigate the impact of escalating inflation levels.

Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA): VDA, on the other hand, pertains to Central Government employees. It undergoes revision every six months in sync with changes in the Consumer Price Index. VDA itself relies on three key components: a base index, the ever-changing Consumer Price Index, and a variable DA amount fixed by the government, subject to alterations in basic minimum wages.

Role of Pay Commissions in DA Calculation

Pay Commissions play a crucial role in determining Dearness Allowance. They evaluate and adjust the salaries of public sector employees, taking into account various elements that constitute an employee’s final compensation package. This includes periodic reviews and updates to the multiplication factor used in DA calculations.

Dearness Allowance for Pensioners

Pensioners, typically retired central government employees receiving individual or family pensions, are impacted by changes in the Pay Commission’s salary structure. When DA percentages change, these adjustments are reflected in the pension amounts received by retirees. However, pensioners may not receive DA if re-employed on a time scale or fixed pay. DA eligibility may be reinstated during re-employment, limited to their last drawn pay, although pensioners residing abroad during re-employment do not receive DA.

Changes in Dearness Allowance as per the Budget 2018

The most recent budget announcement in 2018 brought considerable relief to over 50 lakhs central government employees and 55 lakhs retired central government employees receiving pensions. Dearness Allowance was increased by 2%, elevating it from 5% to 7%. This enhancement signifies substantial benefits for both active employees and retirees in the central government sector.

Distinguishing DA from HRA

It is imperative to distinguish Dearness Allowance from House Rent Allowance (HRA), as they are distinct components treated differently for income tax purposes. While HRA applies to both private and public sector employees, DA is exclusive to public sector employees. Additionally, HRA enjoys certain tax exemptions that are not applicable to DA.

Dearness Allowance Merger

The constant upward trajectory of DA for public sector and central government employees has resulted in a current rate of 50% of the basic salary. Under existing rules, when DA surpasses this threshold, it is a customary practice to merge it with the basic salary. Such a decision would lead to a substantial salary increase for employees, as many other components of their compensation package are calculated based on the basic salary. Calls for this merger have been made to the government, and a decision on this matter is eagerly anticipated.


In conclusion, Dearness Allowance is a critical element of the compensation package for government employees and pensioners, intricately tied to inflation mitigation, tax obligations, and periodic adjustments through Pay Commissions. Understanding the intricacies of DA is essential for both employees and retirees, as it directly impacts their financial well-being.


1. What is Dearness Allowance (DA)?

DA is an allowance provided by the government to employees and pensioners to counter the impact of inflation on their effective salary.

2. How is DA calculated for Central Government employees?

For Central Government employees, DA is calculated using the formula: DA% = [(Average of AICPI for the last 12 months – 115.76) / 115.76] x 100, where AICPI is the All-India Consumer Price Index.

3. How is DA calculated for Public Sector employees?

Public Sector employees’ DA is calculated with the formula: DA% = [(Average of AICPI for the last 3 months – 126.33) / 126.33] x 100, based on the same AICPI.

4. Is Dearness Allowance taxable?

Yes, DA is fully taxable for salaried employees, and it needs to be mentioned separately in income tax returns.

5. What are the two types of Dearness Allowance?

There are two types: Industrial Dearness Allowance (IDA) for Central Government public sector employees and Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA) for Central Government employees.

6. How often is IDA revised?

IDA undergoes quarterly revisions, responding to changes in the Consumer Price Index.

7. What are the components affecting VDA?

VDA depends on a base index, the monthly Consumer Price Index variations, and a variable DA amount fixed by the government, subject to revisions in basic minimum wages.

8. What role do Pay Commissions play in DA calculation?

Pay Commissions evaluate and adjust salaries, considering various factors, including DA. They also review and update the multiplication factor used for DA calculations.

9. How does DA affect pensioners?

When DA percentages change, pensioners’ pensions are adjusted accordingly. However, pensioners may not receive DA during re-employment unless certain conditions are met.

10. What is the current status of Dearness Allowance?

As of the 2018 budget, DA was increased from 5% to 7%, benefiting both central government employees and retirees. Calls for merging DA with the basic salary are under consideration by the government.


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