Understand your salary structure

 “The number of INR 50,000 per month that the company has offered to pay you is it the in-hand number or your CTC?” I could not help but ask my friend, Leesha this question (and ruin her excitement) when all she wanted me was to be happy for her new job at a leading fashion house in Mumbai. She obviously did not understand the term CTC.  She told me that she was offered INR 50,000 per month and reckoned it was sufficient to live a decent life in Mumbai. What she didn't understand was that the amount of INR 50,000 was the CTC amount and the actual amount she would receive in hand each month would be lower. I asked her ‘Have you heard about the IIT students getting a package of INR 24,00,000 and more?' After she answered in affirmative, I further questioned her ‘How much do you think, that person would be getting each month in his/her bank account?’ My friend answered with a bit of jealousy that the amount would be INR 200,000. I told her that it is not so, the student would get anything between INR 100,000 to INR 135,000 as his/her in-hand salary. The amount of INR 24,00,000 is their CTC and various components get deducted before receiving the final salary. I explained to her that the industry generally discusses salary in terms of CTC and not in-hand (which are not the same thing). By looking at her face, I realized either she has assumed the worst or is absolutely clueless about anything that I just said. Then I started to explain to her exactly in detail what I meant. In-hand salary (also known as take-home salary) is the amount that you actually receive in your bank account at the end of each month whereas CTC (also known as Cost to company) is the total salary amount before any taxes, insurance amount, bonus and other various deductions. This amount is generally printed on the offer letter issued to an employee. Salary is always offered on per annum basis. It is generally never negotiated or discussed on a per month basis. My friend would be expecting an amount of INR 600,000 (50,000*12) annually in-hand but the amount is actually INR 600,000 CTC.  In short, in-hand salary = CTC minus Deductions CTC is always a higher number than the in-hand salary number. The general deductions which are subtracted from the CTC amount to arrive at the final ' in-hand' or 'take-home' salary of an individual can include:
  1. Telephone, car, and other allowance Many employers reimburse their employees'  telephone & internet bills,  children's education and uniform allowance up to a specific limit. This amount is also included in the CTC as a part of your salary. However, this payment is not made at the end of each month but is made only when the bills (up to the limits specified in the offer letter) are submitted to the company. Thus, one can collect bills over 6 months and claim their reimbursements once in 6 months or not claim anything until the end of the year. Where an employee does not submit any bills throughout the year, the employer shall pay the amount due to an employee after deducting relevant taxes on the same at the end of the year. Where bills are submitted to the extent of the limits specified, no taxes are deducted by the employer while making these payments.
  2. Leave Travel Allowance (LTA) - LTA is similar to the allowances mentioned above. The same is paid to you only after you submit the relevant bills and documents to your employer. There is a detailed article, written on How to save tax through LTA
Components of a salary structure
  1. Gratuity -  Gratuity is payable to an employee on the termination of his /her employment after they have rendered continuous service for not less than 5 years. It is important to know that gratuity is payable only on resignation (after 5 years of service), retirement or death. Thus, even where the same is included in your CTC, it is not paid to you until you serve 5 years. If you leave the company before completion of 5 years of service, this amount is not paid to you even though it formed a part of your CTC.
  2. NPS (Employer Contribution) - An employer may contribute a % of your basic salary towards NPS - National Pension Scheme. Any money from NPS is received only post-retirement. There are certain conditions for withdrawing money before retirement. We have discussed in detail about NPS in our articles What is NPS and How can you withdraw money from NPS. The NPS amount is a part of your CTC but not paid each month to you and instead deposited with PFRDA each month to be paid to you on your retirement.
  3. Employees' Provident fund (EPF)– An employer contributes 12% of the basic salary payable to the employee towards EPF. Where an employee opts for EPF, the employee contributes 12% of his basic salary in addition to the Employers Contribution. A total of 24% of your Basic salary is deducted from your CTC resulting in a lowered in-hand amount. There are many things to know about EPF apart from the impact on the in-hand amount. We have discussed the same in detail in our series of Article under EPF
  4. Taxes All employers are required to deduct taxes on the salary that they pay to the employees. If you are under the belief that you are hardly earning anything and should not be paying any taxes, you are mistaken. If an employee is earning more than INR 2.5 lakhs per annum (this amount is the CTC amount), the employer shall deduct appropriate taxes on the same. Apart from EPF, the major impact on the in-hand salary is the taxes which are deducted by the employer. Refer to our Articles Ways to reduce taxes without any investments and Investments which help you reduce taxes.
  5. Health Insurance or medical-claim Many employers provide their employees with health insurance cover and the premium amount of the same is included in the salary CTC amount. However, that amount is not received in-hand each month by the employee but is directly paid by the employer to the respective health insurance providers.
  6. Bonus - The Bonus component in one's Salary is completely dependent on the performance and targets achieved. The maximum bonus that an employee is eligible to receive is included in the CTC. However, it is received only once a year and depends on your performance which is assessed by your employer. Where your offer letter states a bonus of INE 300,000 you may receive anything less than INR 300,000 based on the targets achieved by you and after deducting the applicable taxes on the bonus.
  7. House Rent Allowance (HRA)- The amount paid as rent when the employee is settled in a new city. This is received in hand each month until you are living in accommodation provided by the employer.
In conclusion, the deductions from the CTC can broadly consist of five parts:
  • Contributions: Amount that is contributed by the employer on behalf of the employee towards EPF, Insurance, a gratuity fund or a pension fund. It is a part of your salary but is received by you only after you have completed a few years of service and on the fulfillment of certain conditions.
  • Taxes: Income-tax - the same is deducted when your income is more than INR 250,000 subject to some investments and profession tax  - this is deducted for all professional employees.
  • Employer Expenses: House Rent and Health Insurance - Expenses incurred by the employer for your benefits but not paid in-hand to you.
  • Reimbursements and allowances: Amount that you receive as reimbursements/allowances (without taxes) after the relevant expenses proofs are submitted. Where you do not submit the proofs, the same is paid to you at the end of the year after deducting taxes from the same.
  • Variable salary: Amount that you receive as performances based incentives, profit-based bonus or sales based targets (Bonus).
By the end of this discussion, Leesha was not very happy as now she realised that she will receive only INR 40,800 in-hand each month and not the INR 50,000 CTC she was offered by her employer. For a fresher, this can be an anxious phase as you do not want to be considered unaware by your new employer and yet know how much exactly you are going to earn. We, through are articles are educating you about your income as understanding and knowing your income is the first step towards financial wellbeing.
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