Hello fellow investors,

It is that time of the year where we all start planning to submit your tax proofs to claim tax deductions. One such claim is the Leave travel allowance. Given that, none of us are really venturing into travel, a new component of leave travel concession - a cash voucher was introduced for salaried individuals.
 
This leave travel allowance (cash voucher) scheme initially announced for central government employees has now been extended to all other employees with riders to boost consumption during the festive season and also help you get tax deduction. The government has announced that all non-central government employees will be eligible for income tax exemption for the entire leave travel concession amount up to Rs 36,000 per person without producing travel bills. However, such employees will have to spend three times the amount for purchasing goods or services on which GST of 12% or higher is levied, said a press release from the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
 
Employees will have to make purchases through digital payment mode and submit the invoices to avail of the benefit.
 
What’s LTC For Private Sector? 
 
Unlike government employees, their private-sector peers have a part of their salary or cost to the company, structured as leave travel concession. This is done to save tax on the total income of the employee. By showing travel expenses, the employee can avail of the income tax exemption on the travel amount. Those who haven’t availed of this benefit during 2018-21 would be eligible for the tax exemption.
 
Points to Note:
  • The employee exercises an option for the deemed LTC fare in lieu of the applicable LTC in the current block (the year 2018-21); 
  •  The employee spends a sum equal to three times the value of the deemed LTC fare on purchase of goods/services which carry a Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate of at least 12% from GST registered vendors/service providers through digital mode; 
  • The expense is made between 12 October 2020 and 31 March 2021; and 
  • The employee obtains the voucher indicating the GST number and the amount of GST paid.  
 
What Government Is Offering An employee?
 

An Employee who has not availed LTC during 2018-21 would be eligible to avail of the tax exemption subject to the condition that the person spends three times that amount on goods or services with GST of 12% and above.

 

Those who spend less than three times the fare amount will get proportionate income tax exemption. For example, if the LTC fare is Rs 20,000, and is claimed for a family of four, then the employee would get Rs 80,000 (20,000 x 4). The amount that the employee will have to spend would be Rs 2,40,000 (Rs 80,000 x 3). However, if the employee ends up spending only Rs 1,80,000, the person would get  tax exemption of Rs 60,000 (75% of 80,000 or 1/3 of 1,80,000).
 
Thus, this income tax benefit may actually be considered as a discount on expenditure, which the employee has already planned to incur, instead of a reason to incur expenditure. On the other hand, income tax foregone by the Government may be offset by the additional GST revenue on expenditure incurred by the employees.
 
It is advisable to check with your HR department and your employer to see if the policy is modified to include the leave travel concession component and how you can claim this benefit for yourself. It was initiated to encourage people to shop more and take tax benefits on the same, so don't rush to buy new items but if you are buying anything, ensure you have GST documents of the same to claim tax benefits under LTC.