Taxability-of-Interest-Free-Loans

Taxability of Interest Free Loans

Taxability of Interest Free Loans

The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) has pronounced the judgment that interest-free loans offered by the employer will be taxed on the employee as a perquisite. In this article, we discuss the concept of the taxability of interest-free loans and the implications on a salaried taxpayer.

Perquisites

Perquisite is a benefit accorded to the employee with respect to the available job designation and will be added to the head Salaries during the filing of income tax returns. A perquisite may be provided in cash or in kind. The income-tax rule specifies that perquisites can only be taxed on the existence of a legal origin.

Types of Perquisites

Since we now have a brief idea on what a perquisite is, let us now examine its types:

  • Taxable Perquisite – Perquisites such as rent-free accommodation, supply of gas, water and electricity, professional tax of employee, reimbursement of medical expenses and consideration remitted to the employers’ servant are taxable. On the other hand, taxable perquisites are also inclusive of any other fringe benefits provided by the employer.
  • Exempted Perquisites – Exempted, or non-taxable perquisites; could include the likes of travel allowance, laptops or other devices provided by the employer, refreshment provided during work-hours, medical aid, etc.
  • Taxable only by Employees – Certain perquisites like service of a domestic servant, an education facility for children; and so on can only be taxed by employees.

Interest Free Loan is Perquisite

Income tax rules specify that, in general, the employer is mandated to treat an interest-free loan as a taxable perquisite, which would, therefore, mean that Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) will be applicable on the salaries received by an employee. However, exemptions are granted for loans availed with respect to the medical treatment of specific diseases, or when the loan amount is within the specified exemption limit of Rs 20,000.

Computation of Taxable Benefit

The directive of the Tribunal includes a statement which conveys that the valuation of the taxable benefit or perquisite has to be computed in accordance with the prescribed formula under the Income Tax Act, and not in an ad-hoc basis.

Responsibility of Employee and Employer

As per the Income Tax Act, the responsibility to perform tax deductions might be vested with the employer, but the implication of the relevant legal provisions should not be interpreted to mean that employees are devoid of any responsibilities. It is the employees’ responsibility to ascertain that the employer duly deducts tax from source, which is inclusive of the perquisite value of interest-free loans. If an employee fails to fulfil this responsibility, the employee would be held liable to face the necessary consequences. On any lapse on this regard, the employee will be incurred with interests for delayed payment of advance tax, in addition to the income-tax which is payable on the perquisite value of the loan.  Moreover, if the employee fails to report the value of perquisite in the income tax returns, the employee will be imposed with a penalty that could range anywhere between 50% to 200% of the tax payable on the under-reported income.

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Post by Sreeram Viswanath

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