Union Budget 2018-19

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget 2018-19 in Parliament on Thursday. This budget, Jaitley’s fifth, is the last full budget of this NDA government before India goes to polls for the General Elections due to take place in 2019. This is the first budget after big-ticket economic reforms such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST), dynamic fuel pricing, mega PSU bank recapitalisation and more.

Budget 2018 Takeaways-

  1. No change in income tax slabs for individuals 
    Stating that the government had made many positive changes in the personal income-tax rate applicable to individuals in the last three years, Jaitley left the income tax slabs unchanged this Budget. 

    2. Cess on income tax hiked to 4% 
    Budget 2018 has proposed to hike the cess on income tax from 3% to 4% thereby increasing the tax payable by all categories of tax payers. Due to change, the tax liability for highest tax bracket (assuming Rs 15 lakh income) goes up by Rs 2,625. For middle income tax payers (between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh) the tax liability increases by Rs 1,125 and for lowest tax brackets (Rs 2.5 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs) by Rs 125.

3. Standard deduction reintroduced 
Budget 2018 has proposed to provide a standard deduction of Rs 40,000 from salary income to employees. Standard deduction is essentially a flat amount subtracted from the salary income before calculation of taxable income. The standard deduction was a part of the Income-tax Act until former finance minister, P. Chidambaram, withdrew it in the Union budget of 2005-06. 

4. Medical reimbursement and transport allowance knocked out of your salary 
While the Budget 2018 proposes to provide a standard deduction of Rs 40,000 from salary income to employees, it also proposes to take away existing annual transport allowance of Rs 19,200 and Rs 15,000 medical reimbursement. Prima facie income exempted from tax after setting off the gain and loss is Rs 5,800 only.

5. EPF contribution of new women workers capped at 8% 
Women joining the workforce for the first time will have to contribute only 8% instead of 12% or 10% as the case may be, for the first three years. The proposed move will enhance their take-home pay. Further, for new employees coming under the ambit of EPFO would be provided 12 percent contribution from the government.

 6. LTCG exceeding Rs 1 lakh to be taxed at 10% 
The FM in his Budget 2018 speech proposed to re-introduce long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax on gains arising from the transfer of listed equity shares exceeding Rs 1 Lakh at 10 percent, without allowing any indexation benefit. However, all gains up to January 31, 2018 will be exempt. 

7. Section 80D limit proposed to be hiked to Rs 50,000 for senior citizens 
The limit of deduction under section 80 D for senior citizens has been proposed to be hiked Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000. This is good news for senior citizens. 

8. Exemption of interest income on deposits to be hiked for senior citizens 
It has been proposed to hike the exemption on the interest income on bank and post office deposits for senior citizens from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000. This is for all FDs and RDs. 

9. FM proposes DDT on equity MF, dividend seekers to be hit 
It has been proposed to introduce a dividend distribution tax on equity-oriented mutual funds at the rate of 10% percent, to provide a level field across growth oriented and dividend distributing schemes. This reduce the investor’s in-hand return.

10. Budget proposes to hike PMVVY limit to Rs 15 lakh 
More good news for senior citizens. The FM has proposed to increase the investment limit the pension scheme, Pradhanmantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY), to Rs 15 lakh from the present Rs 7.5 lakh.