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Senior Citizens Constantly Filing Salary Returns are Not Liable to Advance Tax

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  • Post published:October 11, 2023
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Last Updated on October 11, 2023 by Iram

The Indian tax system is a complex web of regulations, provisions, and exemptions. One such exemption that holds immense significance for senior citizens in the country is the waiver from paying advance tax. As per Section 207 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, this exemption extends to resident individuals aged 60 or above who do not earn income classified under the head “profit and gains from business or profession.” In simpler terms, senior citizens who receive income primarily from salary, pension, interest, or rent are not required to pay advance tax, irrespective of income or tax liability.

In this extensive exploration, we delve into the rationale behind this exemption, analyze a landmark case law – Jayantilal D Ray v. DCIT – that validates this exemption, and comprehensively examine its implications and benefits to senior citizens who consistently file salary returns.

Understanding Advance Tax

Advance tax is a system of paying income tax in instalments throughout the financial year instead of paying it as a lump sum at the end of the year. Advance tax applies to individuals with income sources other than salary, such as rent, interest, capital gains, lottery winnings, etc. Advance tax is also known as “pay as you earn” tax, paid as the income is earned during the year.

The purpose of advance tax is to ensure that the government gets a steady flow of revenue throughout the year and that the taxpayers do not face a huge tax burden at the end of the year. Advance tax also helps taxpayers plan their finances and avoid penalties and interest for late tax payments.

The advance tax payment is made in four instalments during the year, per the due dates specified by the income tax department. The advance tax liability is calculated based on the year’s estimated income and tax rates. The advance tax payment can be made online through the e-filing portal of the income tax department or certain banks.

Senior citizens who do not have any income from business or profession are exempt from paying advance tax, irrespective of their income or tax liability. Similarly, taxpayers who have opted for a presumptive taxation scheme under section 44AD or 44ADA can pay their entire advance tax liability in one instalment on or before 15 March or 31 March.

Who Are Senior Citizens in This Context?

According to the Income Tax Act 1961, advance tax is a mechanism to collect tax in instalments throughout the year, based on the estimated income of the taxpayer. However, there is an exemption from payment of advance tax for resident senior citizens as per section 207 of the Act. This means that a resident individual who is of the age of 60 years or more at any time during the previous year and who does not have any income chargeable under the head “profit and gains from business or profession” is not required to pay advance tax. This is a relief measure for senior citizens who have income from sources other than business or profession, such as salary, pension, interest, rent, etc. This saves them from the hassle and uncertainty of calculating their income and tax liability in advance and also spares them from the interest and penalty for default or delay in payment of advance tax. They only have to pay their final tax liability when filing their return.

Rationale Behind the Exemption

The rationale behind the exemption from payment of advance tax for resident senior citizens who do not have income from business or profession is to provide relief and convenience to elderly taxpayers. Advance tax is a mechanism to collect tax in instalments throughout the year, based on the estimated income of the taxpayer. However, this mechanism may not be suitable for all categories of taxpayers, especially senior citizens who do not have income from business or profession. 

Senior citizens who do not have income from business or profession may have fixed and regular sources of income, such as pension, interest, rent, etc., which are subject to tax deduction at source (TDS) by the payer. TDS is a system where the payer deducts a certain tax percentage before paying the recipient. Therefore, senior citizens who do not have income from business or profession may not have any significant tax liability at the end of the year, as most of their income may be already taxed at source. 

Paying advance tax may cause hardship and inconvenience to them, as they may have to estimate their income and tax liability in advance and pay it in instalments throughout the year. They may also struggle to maintain records and proof of their income and expenses. Moreover, they may end up paying more or less than their actual tax liability due to variations in their income or changes in tax rates or slabs. 

Hence, the exemption from payment of advance tax is a relief measure for senior citizens who do not have income from business or profession. It spares them from the hassle and uncertainty of paying advance tax and allows them to pay their final tax liability only when they file their return.

Income from Fixed and Regular Sources

Senior citizens without business or profession often rely on income generated from fixed and regular sources. These sources typically include:

  • Pension: Many senior citizens receive pensions from former employers or government schemes. These pensions are often subject to Tax Deduction at Source (TDS), meaning that the payer deducts tax before disbursing the pension amount.
  • Interest: Income generated from bank deposits or investments often falls under the “interest” category. Just like pensions, these earnings are subject to TDS.
  • Rent: Senior citizens who own property and lease it to tenants receive rental income. Similar to pensions and interest, TDS applies to rental income.

Avoiding Hardship and Inconvenience

Requiring senior citizens to pay advance tax can be burdensome and inconvenient. The process involves estimating one’s income and tax liability in advance, maintaining meticulous records, and dealing with potential income fluctuations or tax rate changes. These challenges may be especially daunting for the elderly, who may not have the financial acumen or resources to navigate such complexities.

Thus, the exemption from advance tax is a pragmatic and compassionate measure to alleviate these burdens. It allows senior citizens to pay their final tax liability only when they file their income tax return, sparing them from the hassle and uncertainty associated with paying advance tax.

Case Law Analysis: Jayantilal D Ray v. DCIT

Background

To underscore the significance and validity of the exemption for senior citizens, it’s crucial to examine a pivotal case law: Jayantilal D Ray v. DCIT. In this case, a senior citizen aged 60 or above had a diverse income profile, including:

  • Salary: The taxpayer received salary income, signifying a standard employer-employee relationship.
  • Other Sources: Additional income sources, apart from salary, contributed to the taxpayer’s financial portfolio.
  • Shares from a Partnership Firm: The taxpayer was also a partner in a partnership firm, adding another layer of complexity to their income structure.

CIT (A) Ruling

Upon filing the income tax return, the taxpayer received an intimation under Section 143(1), accompanied by a demand for interest under Sections 234B & 234C for alleged non-compliance with advance tax provisions. In response, the taxpayer approached the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) [CIT (A)] to challenge this intimation.

CIT (A) ruled that, due to the absence of documented terms of service, the taxpayer failed to substantiate the existence of an employer-employee relationship. Consequently, CIT (A) determined that the taxpayer earned business and professional income, disqualifying them from the exemption for senior citizens.

Tribunal’s Decision

Aggrieved by the CIT (A) decision, the taxpayer proceeded to file an appeal before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (the Tribunal). The Tribunal’s ruling in this case carried significant implications. It held that as per Section 207(2) of the Income Tax Act, a resident individual who does not earn income under the head “profit and gains from business or profession” and is aged 60 or older is exempted from paying advance tax.

The Tribunal scrutinized the taxpayer’s income profile and observed that the taxpayer had no income categorized under the head “profits and gains” from business or profession. CIT (A) failed to produce any substantial evidence to establish that the taxpayer derived income from business or profession rather than receiving a salary.

Furthermore, the Tribunal noted that the taxpayer consistently filed income tax returns, declaring their income as salary income from their employment. It was crucial that tax was deducted at source under Section 192 of the Income Tax Act, which specifically addresses Tax Deduction at Source on salary income.

Consequently, the Tribunal ruled in favour of the taxpayer. It concluded that the taxpayer was not liable to pay advance tax, and as a result, it annulled the interest charges imposed under Sections 234B & 234C of the Act.

Implications and Benefits of the Exemption

Relief from Advance Tax Estimation

The exemption from advance tax offers senior citizens significant relief by sparing them from the intricate task of estimating their income and tax liability throughout the year. This becomes especially important when considering that senior citizens’ income may fluctuate due to unforeseen factors such as bonuses, arrears, gratuity, medical expenses, and other deductions.

Elimination of Interest and Penalties

Senior citizens benefit immensely from the exemption by avoiding interest and penalties associated with default or late payment of advance tax. Sections 234B & 234C of the Income Tax Act mandate interest charges at the rate of 1% per month on any shortfall in advance tax payments. For seniors on a fixed income, such charges can be burdensome.

Prevention of Overpayment

The exemption ensures that senior citizens do not pay excess or unnecessary taxes in advance. Such overpayment can lead to complex refund claims or adjustment issues. Claiming a tax refund can be a cumbersome process involving online applications, bank verification, and tracking refund statuses, which may prove particularly challenging for the elderly.

Enhanced Financial Flexibility

By exempting senior citizens from the obligation of advance tax payments, they gain more control and flexibility over their finances. This flexibility empowers them to plan their investments and expenditures according to their financial resources and needs. It grants them the freedom to make choices that align with their cash availability and aspirations, such as travel, philanthropy, or gifting.

The exemption from advance tax for senior citizens constantly filing salary returns is a commendable and compassionate provision in the Indian tax system. It offers numerous benefits, including relief from advance tax estimation, elimination of interest and penalties, prevention of overpayment, and enhanced financial flexibility.

The case law of Jayantilal D Ray v. DCIT serves as a powerful precedent that upholds the exemption and reinforces its validity. However, while this exemption is a crucial step towards providing financial relief to senior citizens, there is still room for improvement in the tax system. Measures such as increasing the basic exemption limit, rationalizing tax rates and slabs, and introducing additional deductions and rebates tailored to senior citizens could further enhance their tax compliance and overall satisfaction.

Conclusion

In an ageing population, where senior citizens play an increasingly vital role in society, creating a tax framework that recognizes their unique needs and challenges is not just an economic imperative but also a moral one. By ensuring that the tax system remains equitable and considerate, India can honour the contributions of its elderly citizens while empowering them to lead financially secure and fulfilling lives.

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Iram

Greetings, I'm Iram, a taxation expert with a profound passion for helping businesses navigate the complex world of tax compliance and financial strategies. With extensive knowledge in tax law and a commitment to providing businesses with the guidance they need, I'm here to be your trusted partner in achieving financial success. I firmly believe that every business owner, regardless of their background, deserves access to expert taxation advice and strategies. My goal is to support you in optimizing your tax planning and compliance efforts, ensuring that your business thrives in the competitive landscape. I am honored to be part of your journey toward financial success through this blog, where I'll share valuable insights and strategies tailored to your taxation needs. Thank you for entrusting me with the opportunity to contribute to your business's financial prosperity. For more information and resources, please visit www.kanakkupillai.com.