“He is poor, his neighbor is poor. How do they manage? They borrow from each other.”
I had read the above line in my college days which I still remember and like. It fully explains the importance of borrowing for those around. Most of us must have borrowed at some point in life, be it from friends and relatives or for home loan from the financial institutions. Let us discuss the tax benefits available through such loans.
Deduction for home loan
Section 24(b) of the Income Tax Act allows you a deduction for interest on any money borrowed to buy, construct, or even for repair or reconstruction of a property. The interest can be claimed for residential as well as commercial property. Even the processing fee or prepayment charges paid are also treated as interest for income tax purpose therefore can be claimed. The interest can be claimed for any money borrowed, be it from banks, friends or relatives, as long as you are able to prove actual use of the money borrowed is for the specified purposes.
The quantum of deduction for interest which can be claimed will depend on whether the property has been let out or is self occupied house property. For a self occupied property, the deduction is restricted to Rs 2 lakh only whereas for a let-out property, you can claim full interest. If you have more than one self-occupied houses, you have to select one house as self-occupied and the other house/s is treated as let-out. In such case you have to offer notional rent for taxation on such property and can also claim full interest payable in respect of such house treated as let out. So in order to maximize your tax benefits, it is advisable to treat the property on which interest is lower as self-occupied in case interest payable on any or all of the property is more than Rs 2 lakh in such cases.
For an under construction property, you can claim interest only from the year when construction of the property is completed and possession is taken. However, for interest paid during the period prior to the year of taking possession, the aggregate of such interest can be claimed in five equal installments beginning from year of completion of construction. This is within the limit of Rs 2 lakh in case of self occupied house property. However in case you sell the property before completing five years after taking possession, the claim for remaining year is lost.
Section 80C allows an individual and Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) to claim a deduction of upto Rs 1.5 lakh towards principal repayment of a home loan taken for a purchase or construction of a residence. This deduction can only be claimed for repayment of home loan taken from specified entity like banks, housing finance companies, etc. Also, this deduction is clubbed with other investment avenues like premium for life insurance, national savings certificate, employees provident fund, equity linked savings scheme, etc.
Please note that in case you sell the house acquired through home loan within five years from the end of the year in which possession of the house was taken, then all deductions allowed in earlier years will be withdrawn and will be treated as income for the year from sale of property.
Deduction for education loan
The income tax laws allow you to claim full amount of interest paid during the year on education loan taken for higher studies. No deduction for repayment of the principal amount is allowable. The deduction is available on the basis of actual payment of interest. Therefore, if you pay the interest for earlier years in a single year, you will get the deduction in respect of all the actual interest paid irrespective of the year to which the interest relates.
The deduction for interest can only be claimed for a maximum of eight consecutive years beginning from the year in which you first start paying the interest. In case you have opted for moratorium during the education period, the eight year period shall start later. However, if your loan tenure exceeds eight years, you cannot claim the deductions beyond the consecutive period of eight years. It is therefore advised that you should plan to repay the education loan within eight years. The deduction can only be claimed for education loan taken for pursuing any government recognized course after higher secondary examination. Even part-time course or a diploma course shall qualify for the purpose of claiming interest deduction if the institution imparting such course is recognized.
The benefit is available only to an individual only. You can claim deduction if the loan has been taken for study of yourself, your spouse, child or any other child for whom you are a guardian. However, this deduction is not available for education loan taken for your siblings.
It is advisable to claim the benefit of interest for such loan in the income tax returns of the person who falls in the higher tax slab. The parents can take the benefit of interest deduction in case the interest is agreed to be paid during continuance of the education. In case the person for whom the loan is taken falls in higher tax slab, he can pay the interest and claim it in his income tax returns. Therefore, it is advisable to take an education loan in joint names of parent and the student so as to have the flexibility for claiming the interest.
The education loan should have been taken either from a financial institution or any approved charitable institution. Interest on loan taken from relatives or friends will not be eligible for this deduction. The first category covers all the banks including cooperative banks and a non banking institution known as Credila which is a subsidiary of HDFC Ltd. All banks should be approved by the government for this purpose. There is another category of institutions which includes charitable institution and NGOs, from where education loans can be taken to qualify for tax benefit on interest.
Tax benefit on car loan
There are no tax benefits available to a salaried person in respect of any car loan. However, in case the vehicle for which the loan is taken is used for the purpose of your business or profession, you can claim the interest in respect of such auto loans as well as the deprecation on the vehicle to the extent the same is used for your business purpose.
Tax benefit on personal loan or loan on credit card
The income tax per se does not allow any tax benefit in respect of any personal loan or loan taken on credit card. However, in case the personal loan taken has been used for a purpose like paying for margin money for your house or for any business asset and if you are able to establish such usage, the interest so paid can be claimed based on the purpose for which the personal loan taken has been used. However, in my opinion, the benefit for repayment of such personal loan cannot be claimed under Section 80C as the money borrowed is not for specific purpose of buying or constructing a house.
I am sure the above discussion will be useful while borrowing the money for specific purposes next time.
Balwant Jain is a CA, CS and CFP. Presently working as Company Secretary of Bombay Oxygen Corporation Limited.