Personal Income Tax – which regime should I go for, New or Old?

Personal Income Tax – which regime should I go for, New or Old?


As the economy slowly begins to start up and get back on its feet, it is the time of the year, post extensions, when companies require you to let them know what income deductions you will be availing of in the current financial year and the quantum of investments in various tax saving schemes. This year, however, there is an added dimension to this, you will have to also let your company know if you will be availing of the previous tax regime or the new one.

While this decision is entirely dependent on your ability and willingness to invest in tax-saving instruments as well as various deductions available to you, we are writing to give you some broad indications of which one may be suitable for you.

Below is a quick recap of the tax slabs in both the old and new regimes. The rows highlighted in grey in the new regime are the income slabs which are benefited on income tax versus the old regime. Also, important to remember that if you choose the old regime you can avail of various deductions, whereas you cannot avail of any deductions in the new regime.

Most availed deduction/exemptions in the old regime are as follows

  • Standard deduction (available by default to everyone)
  • Sec 80C – up to Rs 1.5L (normally taken care by the EPF contribution for employees, as also school tuition fee or principal repayment of house)
  • Sec 80D & Sec 80DD – Medical insurance Premium paid for self and Parents
  • HRA benefit
  • Home loan interest repaid


Let us look at which option seems beneficial under various scenarios.


You are able to avail of entire 80C and 80D medical benefit without investing in any further instruments

What we have noticed with a large part of our customers is EPF or NPS contributions take care of the entire Sec 80C limit. In a few cases where it is not so, the education tuition fees of children or principal repaid from home loan can cover up.

No one takes health insurance to save tax. It is supremely important to have a medical insurance to ensure that your financial goals are not de-railed thanks to an illness.   Most customers do have medical insurance and are able to claim a deduction of 25K for self and family. If you are paying the premium for senior citizen parents, you can get a further deduction of 50K.

Since you are not forced to invest any further money to save tax it normally makes sense to stay with old regime.


You have a home loan

If you have a home loan, it is a no-brainer to stick to the old regime, primarily because you will get home loan interest deduction upto 2L apart from availing 80C for principal repayment.


You are a senior citizen investing in PPF for 80C and have fixed deposits or Senior citizen saving scheme

If you are a senior citizen who has been investing in PPF for many years and are comfortable investing further and you hold substantial FDs or Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS) it would be beneficial to stick to the old regime. This is because you get deduction of Rs 50,000 on interest paid under section 80TTB. This is over and above 1.5L deductions under 80C for investments in PPF.

If you are wondering why a senior citizen will be investing in PPF, many of our customers use this as a tax-free estate planning device. They keep investing and leave it behind for their children. As part of asset allocation, they put some part of their debt monies into such schemes.


HRA deduction

If you are eligible for HRA deductions and can avail of deductions under 80C for your ongoing investments or expenses, it is an added reason to be in old regime.


If you are taking Voluntary Retirement and expect to get a compensation amount

Compensation upto Rs 5L received under voluntary retirement scheme is exempt from tax once in your life time. If you are choosing to avail of Voluntary retirement this year, you should stick with the old tax regime.

While the above are basic pointers, there are additional benefits available to you if you choose to invest Rs 50,000 in the NPS scheme, have an educational loan or plan to donate to recognised institutions, in all such cases the old regime is beneficial.

As you can see, I have highlighted many cases where the old regime is beneficial. You must be wondering why bring a new tax structure if it is not beneficial for most. The key to this is that you can claim deductions without making fresh investments in sub-optimal instruments only to avail of the tax deductions. Also, we have looked at the above primarily from a salaried employee’s perspective.

For self-employed or professionals where Sec 80C is not a given, they will need to invest money to avail of tax benefits. In many cases, the choice of investments will be at cross-purposes to their financial goals. In such cases it would be better to opt for new regime and invest your money in instruments of your choice which are aligned with your overall financial goals.

If you have already made the choice of tax regime as a salaried employee, you can change your mind at the time of filing your tax. This is not an option with non-salaried people. As mentioned earlier it is always a good idea to consult with your financial advisor/ tax consultant to get advice which is customised to your unique situation. However, the above pointers may help you understand the reasoning behind the choice.

Image credit: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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Budget 2019 – How does it affect your individual personal financial plan?

Budget 2019 – How does it affect your individual personal financial plan?

The interim budget was presented on 1st Feb 2019 and has already receded to the background in most conversations. Now that the dust has settled as well as clarity obtained on a few new proposals, it is a good time for us to look at and quickly recap how this year’s interim budget weighs upon our personal finances.

The one thing which is usually on every salaried person’s wish list from the budget year after year is tax breaks, and this time we did see some welcome changes. A lot of positive moves for those in lowest tax bracket and some for the mid and high-income category too.

No tax if taxable income below Rs. 5 Lakhs, standard deduction raised from Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 50,000

Rebate of Rs. 12,500 has been given to people with taxable salary of upto 5 lakhs, thereby ensuring that people belonging to this group will pay zero tax. Note that if your taxable income is higher than Rs. 5 lakhs you will continue to pay 5% tax for income from Rs. 2.5 lakhs to Rs. 5 lakhs.

The key word here is taxable income, meaning income after considering all deductions. This means that people with gross incomes higher than Rs 5 lakh, in fact upto Rs 10.35 lakh can end up paying zero tax, assuming the person has made maximum investments basis eligibility.

Sample illustration on how to calculate taxable income post all deductions

The attached table clearly illustrates how a person with gross income of 10.35 lakhs will still avail of the rebate and end up paying no tax. This is for someone with no HRA, donations or education loan, a person having any of the above will end up paying no tax on even higher incomes than Rs 10.35 lakh. The fact that a person earning close to Rs 90,000 a month can end up paying zero tax if she plans her investments is a huge positive.

The standard deduction which was at Rs 40,000 has now been increased to Rs 50,000. This benefit is available to people across all income slabs and not just < Rs 5 lakh pa.

Limit for deduction of tax at source (TDS) for interest on FD has been raised from Rs 10,000 pa to Rs. 40000 pa

This will come as a relief to many pensioners as well as people having FDs as a contingency asset. With lower limits of TDS, one needed to fill forms and submit it on time to avail of non-deduction of TDS. This will be a welcome change making the process hassle free.

No tax on second self-occupied house on notional rent

People having two houses were required to pay tax on notional rent on the second house, even when they choose not to rent out their premises. This is a very thoughtful benefit and has been extended given the fact that the number of working couples who are forced to work in different cities to pursue their careers and build their lives is increasing. Hence going forward, people who have two houses due to various reasons can now breathe a sigh of relief.

You can reinvest your long-term capital gains in two houses instead of one.

If long term capital gains accrued on sale of a house does not exceed Rs. 2 crores, then you can avail capital gains re-investment benefit across two residential houses instead of one under section 54. This benefit is available to an individual only once in a lifetime. This again is a thoughtful benefit extended, keeping in mind inter-generational purchase of houses, due to greater nuclearization of families.

However if the capital gains exceed Rs 2 crore than old rules will still apply and to avail of the benefit you will have to invest in 1 residential house.

In our opinion though, in case one is not obliged to re-purchase a house (to meet familial needs), it will make better sense to invest capital gains in Sect 54 EC bonds for a period of 5 years rather than locking up capital in in low-yielding real estate. Post the lock-in period, one can look at financial assets which have potential to make much higher returns.

Pension for unorganised sector workers

In our opinion one of the highlights of the budget was the pension scheme announced for unorganised sector workers. We all see our maids, drivers and numerous other people struggling to make ends meet and retirement is definitely not on their priority. Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana promises a minimum pension of INR 3000 pm at age 60 on minimum monthly contributions.  A 29 year old, will need to deposit INR 100 a month to avail of this pension. This scheme now provides a much needed social security net for the huge number of unorganized sector workers across the country and each one of us should ensure that our safety nets ie. our domestic helps avail of this scheme so that they too can have their own safety nets.

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both residents and NRIs plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence. For consultations, please reach us at or +91 9870702277/9820818007.