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Maximizing Tax Savings: House Rent Allowance & How to claim it

Understanding House Rent Allowance (HRA) and its Tax Benefits
HRA, short for House Rent Allowance, is an essential component of an employee’s salary. It offers tax benefits by allowing partial or full deductions under Section 10 (13A) of the Income Tax Act. This allowance is specifically provided to cover expenses related to rented accommodations. However, it’s important to note that if you don’t live in a rented accommodation, this allowance is fully taxable.

  • The tax benefit of HRA (House Rent Allowance) exemption presents an opportunity to reduce your tax burden by decreasing your taxable income. The amount of HRA exemption you can claim is influenced by factors such as the actual HRA received, rent paid, basic salary + DA, and the city of residence. To conveniently calculate your HRA exemption, consider using our online HRA calculator.
  • To avail the tax benefit of HRA exemption, you must submit rent receipts or a rent agreement, along with the PAN of your landlord (if the annual rent exceeds Rs. 1 lakh), to your employer.
  • Additionally, if you have taken a home loan for another property, you can combine the tax benefit of HRA exemption with the deduction for home loan interest. This enables you to optimize your tax benefits and enhance your overall savings.
  • It’s important to note that the tax benefit of HRA exemption is exclusively available to salaried individuals who receive HRA as part of their salary and reside in rented accommodations.
  • Unfortunately, self-employed individuals are not eligible for this deduction. However, they can explore deduction options for rent paid under Section 80GG. It’s worth mentioning that the tax benefit of HRA exemption is not applicable if you opt for the new tax regime starting from the financial year 2020-21 (assessment year 2021-22).

Understanding House Rent Allowance (HRA) Calculations 
The calculation of HRA takes into account various factors such as your salary, rent paid, HRA received from your employer, and the city in which you reside. The deduction available for tax purposes is determined by selecting the least of the following amounts:

  • Actual HRA received from the employer
  • 50% of [basic salary + DA] for individuals residing in metro cities (Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, or Chennai)
  • 40% of [basic salary + DA] for individuals residing in non-metro cities
  • Actual rent paid minus 10% of [basic salary + DA]

Calculating Taxable HRA: A Step-by-Step 
To determine your taxable House Rent Allowance (HRA), follow these simple steps:

  • Identify the actual HRA received from your employer for the entire year.
  • Determine the actual rent paid by you throughout the year, subtracting 10% of your basic salary.
  • Calculate 50% of your basic salary if you live in a metro city, or 40% of your basic salary if you reside in a non-metro city.
  • Compare the three amounts obtained in steps 1, 2, and 3, and select the lowest one. This represents the HRA exemption you can claim.
  • Subtract the HRA exemption obtained in step 4 from the actual HRA received. The resulting amount is your taxable HRA that will be added to your income.

For example, let’s say you reside in Delhi and earn a monthly basic salary of Rs. 50,000 with a DA of Rs. 5,000. Your employer provides you with an HRA of Rs. 25,000 per month, and you pay a monthly rent of Rs. 20,000. In this scenario, the HRA exemption will be calculated as follows:

  • Actual HRA received = Rs. 25,000
  • 50% of [basic salary + DA] = 50% of [Rs. 50,000 + Rs. 5,000] = Rs. 27,500
  • Actual rent paid minus 10% of basic salary + DA = Rs. 20,000 – 10% of [Rs. 50,000 + Rs. 5,000] = Rs. 14,500

Therefore, the HRA exemption will be Rs. 14,500 per month, and the taxable portion of your HRA will amount to Rs. 25,000 – Rs. 14,500 = Rs. 10,500 per month. By understanding these calculations and rules, you can navigate the process of claiming HRA exemptions more effectively.
It’s worth noting that the tax exemption on house rent allowance is not applicable if you choose the new tax regime starting from the financial year 2020-21 (assessment year 2021-22).

Another Example
let’s assume you live in Delhi and earn a monthly basic salary of Rs. 30,000. Throughout the year, you receive a monthly HRA of Rs. 15,000 and pay a monthly rent of Rs. 12,000. To calculate your taxable HRA for the year, follow these steps:

  • Actual HRA received: Rs. 15,000 x 12 = Rs. 1,80,000
  • Actual rent paid minus 10% of basic salary: (Rs. 12,000 x 12) – (10% of Rs. 30,000 x 12) = Rs. 1,08,000
  • 50% of basic salary for a metro city: 50% of Rs. 30,000 x 12 = Rs. 1,80,000
  • The lowest amount among the above three is Rs. 1,08,000, which is the HRA exemption you can claim.
  • Taxable HRA: Rs. 1,80,000 – Rs. 1,08,000 = Rs. 72,000

Therefore, your taxable HRA for the year is Rs. 72,000, which will be added to your income from salary. By understanding this step-by-step process, you can accurately calculate your taxable HRA and effectively manage your tax obligations.

Eligibility and Documents for HRA Exemption
Meeting Criteria and Required Documents for Claiming HRA Exemption

To qualify for HRA (House Rent Allowance) exemption, you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • You must be a salaried employee and receive HRA as part of your salary from your employer.
  • You should reside in a rented accommodation and make rent payments to your landlord. The rent paid should exceed 10% of your basic salary + DA.
  • It’s essential to maintain rent receipts or a rent agreement as proof of your rent payments. If the annual rent exceeds Rs. 1 lakh, you must also possess your landlord’s PAN.

The necessary documents for claiming HRA exemption are as follows:

  • Rent receipts: These receipts should contain the landlord’s name and address, the rent amount, and the duration for which the rent is paid. Submit these receipts to your employer along with your HRA declaration.
  • Rent agreement: A legal contract between you and your landlord, the rent agreement outlines the terms and conditions of your tenancy. Provide this document to your employer if requested for verification or audit purposes.
  • PAN of landlord: If your annual rent payments exceed Rs. 1 lakh, it’s mandatory to provide your landlord’s PAN. Submit this information to your employer along with the rent receipts or rent agreement. In cases where your landlord does not possess a PAN, they should provide a self-declaration acknowledging this fact.

By meeting the eligibility criteria and furnishing the required documents, you can effectively claim HRA exemption and optimize your tax benefits.

HRA Exemptions: Rules 
To successfully claim HRA (House Rent Allowance) exemptions, it’s essential to be aware of the following rules:

  • You must be a salaried employee and receive HRA from your employer.
  • You must live in a rented accommodation and pay rent to your landlord.
  • The amount you pay as rent should exceed 10% of your basic salary + DA.
  • HRA exemption cannot be claimed by paying rent to your spouse.
  • You need to provide rent receipts or a rent agreement as proof of rent payment to your employer.
  • If your annual rent exceeds Rs. 1 lakh, you must provide your landlord’s PAN.
  • You can only claim HRA exemption for one rented house in a single location.

Understanding the Difference Between HRA and Rent Allowance
HRA and rent allowance are terms that often confuse many individuals. However, it’s important to understand the difference between them. Let’s take a closer look:

House Rent Allowance (HRA): HRA, short for House Rent Allowance, is an integral part of an employee’s salary. It is specifically designed to help reduce taxes by providing exemptions for expenses related to rented accommodations. HRA is paid by the employer to the employee in addition to the basic salary. The calculation of HRA considers factors such as the employee’s salary, rent paid, HRA received, and city of residence.
The tax exemption for HRA is determined by the least of the following amounts: the actual HRA received from the employer, 50% of [basic salary + DA] for metro cities or 40% of [basic salary + DA] for non-metro cities, and actual rent paid minus 10% of [basic salary + DA]. Under Section 10 (13A) of the Income Tax Act, HRA is eligible for partial or full tax exemption.

Rent Allowance: Rent allowance, on the other hand, is a more general term that refers to any allowance or compensation paid for renting an accommodation. It can be given by anyone to anyone, such as a parent to a child, a friend to a friend, or a company to an employee. Unlike HRA, rent allowance is not a specific component of an employee’s salary and is not governed by any specific laws or regulations. 
Rent allowance is typically a fixed amount and does not depend on factors such as salary, rent paid, or city of residence. It’s important to note that rent allowance is fully taxable in the hands of the receiver unless it qualifies for specific exemptions or deductions as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act.

Difference between HRA and rent allowance,

House Rent Allowance (HRA)Rent Allowance
DefinitionA component of an employee’s salary designed to provide tax exemptions for rented accommodationsAn allowance or compensation paid for renting an accommodation
Paid ByEmployerAnyone (e.g., parents, friends, company)
Regulated ByIncome Tax Act, Section 10 (13A)No specific regulations or laws
CalculationBased on factors like salary, rent paid, HRA received, and city of residenceFixed amount, not dependent on salary, rent, or city of residence
Tax ExemptionPartially or fully exempt from taxes, depending on the least of the following: actual HRA received, 50% of [basic salary + DA] for metros or 40% of [basic salary + DA] for non-metros, actual rent paid minus 10% of [basic salary + DA]Fully taxable unless eligible for specific exemptions or deductions

In summary, it’s crucial to understand the distinction between the basic salary, HRA, and rent allowance. While the basic salary represents a fixed amount paid to an employee before any deductions, HRA is an allowance specifically allocated to cover rental expenses. The tax treatment of HRA depends on certain conditions, and it can be partially or fully exempt from taxes. 
On the other hand, rent allowance is fully taxable unless there are specific exemptions or deductions applicable under the Income Tax Act. By comprehending these differences, individuals can better navigate their financial planning and tax obligations.

Optimizing Tax Savings: Leveraging HRA and Home Loan Tax Benefits Together
If you fulfill certain requirements, you have the opportunity to maximize your tax savings by claiming both House Rent Allowance (HRA) and home loan tax benefits simultaneously. Let’s delve into the eligibility criteria and the advantages you can enjoy:

  • You must be a salaried employee and receive HRA as part of your salary from your employer.
  • Your place of residence should be a rented accommodation, with the rent paid exceeding 10% of your basic salary + DA.
  • You should have availed a home loan to purchase a house, either in the city where you work or in another location. The property can be self-occupied by you or your family members, or it may remain vacant due to your employment elsewhere.
  • You need to retain rent receipts or a rent agreement as evidence of rent payment, and provide your landlord’s PAN if the annual rent surpasses Rs. 1 lakh.
  • You should possess the necessary documentation, such as the home loan certificate, to substantiate your interest and principal repayments.

Let’s now explore the tax benefits you can leverage under both the HRA and home loan categories:

  • For HRA, you can claim an exemption by selecting the lowest of the following three amounts:
    • Actual HRA received from your employer
    • 50% of [basic salary + DA] for individuals residing in metro cities (Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, or Chennai), or 40% of [basic salary + DA] for those in non-metro cities
    • Actual rent paid minus 10% of basic salary + DA
  • With regards to your home loan, you have the opportunity to claim deductions under Section 80C for the principal repayment, up to Rs. 1.5 lakh per financial year. Additionally, you can avail a deduction under Section 24 for the interest payment, up to Rs. 2 lakh per financial year, if the house property is self-occupied.

By meeting the necessary conditions and understanding the available tax benefits, you can effectively optimize your tax savings. Combining the advantages of HRA and home loan tax benefits empowers you to minimize your tax liability while maximizing your potential savings.

Conclusion: House Rent Allowance (HRA) provides tax benefits by reducing taxable income, while rent allowance is fully taxable. By understanding HRA calculations, eligibility criteria, and required documents, individuals can effectively claim HRA exemptions. Combining HRA and home loan tax benefits allows for greater tax savings. By meeting the necessary conditions and leveraging available deductions, individuals can optimize their tax liability and enhance their financial planning.


FAQs about HRA

What is HRA?

HRA stands for House Rent Allowance, which is a component of an employee’s salary that can help lower taxes by claiming exemptions for expenses related to rented accommodation.

Who can claim HRA?

Both salaried and self-employed individuals can claim HRA. Salaried individuals can claim HRA under Section 10 (13A) of the Income Tax Act, while self-employed individuals can claim HRA under Section 80GG of the Income Tax Act.

How is HRA calculated?

HRA is calculated based on four factors: salary, rent paid, HRA received, and city of residence. The exemption amount is the least of the following: actual HRA received from the employer, 50% of [basic salary + DA] for metro cities or 40% of [basic salary + DA] for non-metro cities, or actual rent paid minus 10% of [basic salary + DA].

What are the metro cities for HRA calculation?

The metro cities for HRA calculation are Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai. For these cities, the higher rate of 50% is applicable.

What documents are required to claim HRA?

To claim HRA, one needs to submit rent receipts as proof of rent paid. The rent receipts should mention the name, address, and PAN of the landlord. If the rent paid exceeds Rs.1 lakh per annum, the landlord’s PAN is mandatory.

Is it possible to avail HRA benefits if I reside with my parents?

Yes, you can claim HRA if you live with your parents and pay rent to them. However, you need to have a valid rent agreement and rent receipts to prove the payment. Also, your parents need to show the rent income in their tax returns.
Can I claim HRA if I live with my spouse? No, you cannot claim HRA if you live with your spouse and pay rent to him/her. This is not considered a valid arrangement under the income tax law.

Am I eligible to claim both HRA and deductions on home loan interest?

Yes, you can claim both HRA and deduction on home loan interest if you meet certain conditions. These include owning a house property but not residing in it due to employment or business reasons, living in a rented accommodation in another city or location, paying rent for the accommodation where you reside, and having taken a home loan for the house property that you own and pay interest on it.

What is Section 80GG?

Section 80GG is a provision in the Income Tax Act that allows self-employed individuals and salaried individuals who do not receive HRA to claim a deduction for rent paid. The deduction amount is determined by the minimum value among Rs. 5,000 per month, 25% of the adjusted total income, or the rent paid minus 10% of the adjusted total income. Adjusted total income is calculated by deducting all deductions under Chapter VI-A (except Section 80GG) from the gross total income.

What is the difference between old tax regime and new tax regime for HRA?

The old tax regime allows individuals to claim various deductions and exemptions, including HRA, under the Income Tax Act. The new tax regime, introduced from FY 2020-21 onwards, offers lower tax rates but does not allow most deductions and exemptions, including HRA. Therefore, individuals who opt for the new tax regime cannot avail tax exemption on house rent allowance.

Can I claim HRA for multiple houses?

No, you can claim HRA only for one house where you reside. If you pay rent for more than one house, you need to choose the one with the higher rent for HRA calculation.

Can I claim HRA if I own a house in the same city where I live in a rented accommodation?

Yes, you can claim HRA if you own a house in the same city where you live in a rented accommodation, provided that you have a valid reason for not residing in your own house. For example, if your own house is too far from your workplace, under renovation, or rented out to someone else, you can claim HRA for the rented accommodation where you live.

How can I claim HRA if I don’t have rent receipts?

If you don’t have rent receipts, you can still claim HRA by submitting a declaration stating the amount of rent paid and the name and address of the landlord. However, this declaration may not be accepted by your employer or the tax authorities if they ask for proof of rent payment. Therefore, it is advisable to obtain rent receipts from your landlord and keep them safely.

Can I claim HRA if I pay rent to a relative?

Yes, you can claim HRA if you pay rent to a relative, such as your brother, sister, uncle, aunt, etc. However, you need to have a valid rent agreement and rent receipts to prove the payment. Also, the relative needs to show the rent income in their tax returns.

Can I claim HRA if I share a rented accommodation with someone else?

Yes, you can claim HRA if you share a rented accommodation with someone else, such as your friend, colleague, partner, etc. However, you need to have a valid rent agreement and rent receipts that mention your share of the rent. Also, you can claim HRA only for your share of the rent and not for the entire rent amount.

Can I claim HRA if I live in a hostel or a guest house?

Yes, you can claim HRA if you live in a hostel or a guest house, provided that you pay rent for the accommodation and have rent receipts to prove it. However, it is important to note that you cannot claim HRA if you live in a company-provided accommodation or a hotel.

Can I claim HRA if I pay rent online or through cheque?

Yes, you can claim HRA if you pay rent online or through cheque. These are considered valid modes of payment, and as long as you have rent receipts from your landlord as proof of payment, you can claim HRA accordingly.

Can I claim HRA for the period when I was not employed?

No, you cannot claim HRA for the period when you were not employed. HRA is a part of your salary and is only available when you are employed and receive HRA from your employer. However, if you were employed for a part of the year and paid rent for the entire year, you can claim HRA for the period when you were employed.

Can I claim HRA if I have taken a leave without pay?

Yes, you can claim HRA if you have taken a leave without pay, as long as you receive HRA from your employer for that period. However, it is important to note that your HRA exemption amount may be lower during this period, as it depends on your salary and the rent paid.

Am I eligible to claim HRA if I work remotely from home?

Yes, you can claim HRA if you work from home, provided that you pay rent for the accommodation where you live and work. However, it is crucial to check with your employer regarding their specific policies on HRA for employees who work from home, as they may have different guidelines or requirements in such cases.

Is it possible to avail both HRA and rent deduction under Section 80GG?

No, it is not permissible to claim both HRA and rent deduction under Section 80GG. These are separate provisions that offer tax benefits for rent paid. If you receive HRA from your employer, you can claim HRA exemption under Section 10 (13A) of the Income Tax Act. If you do not receive HRA and pay rent for your own residence, you can claim rent deduction under Section 80GG. However, you cannot claim both for the same rent amount. Choose the applicable provision based on your eligibility and circumstances.

Komal Sharma

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