To offer NRIs the right to exercise their franchise by e-postal ballots or through proxy voting, the government on Tuesday called for an all-party meeting to discuss the proposal.
Law Minister, DV Sadananda Gowda, acknowledged the demand of Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha that their views should be taken into consideration while enacting legislation to award voting rights to NRIs and domestic migrant labours.
Leader of Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad, moved a motion in the house on this issue. Gowda, in response to the motion, said that the government was working on the Election Commission report regarding voting rights of over one crore NRIs and not as directed by the Supreme Court.
The debate heated up as the Opposition members blamed the government that it is acting against the Supreme Court’s directions. Azad said that the Opposition is not against the voting rights for NRIs, but it is the way the government has moved the proposal without even discussing it with the political parties.
“Today government has said goodbye to all consultation process. Parliament is being made aware of developments from newspaper reports. It has become the habit of the government to bypass the Parliament and the standing committees. When we object, we are being criticised,” said Azad.
Gowda stated that the report advocated the options of the e-postal ballot system and proxy voting. “E-postal and postal ballot voting methodologies are being worked out for the voting rights of the NRIs,” he said.
On the other hand, the minister agreed for an all party meeting as insisted by DMK, BJD, CPI, AIADMK, SP and JD-U. Gowda said, “I (will) request Election Commision to hold all party meeting to get their feedback.”
Non- Resident Indians (NRIs) are supposed to pay taxes on income earned in India during a particular financial year. So, any income that has been either accrued or received in India shall form part of the taxable income of NRI. If you have recently moved abroad, you may be worried about ensuring your tax compliance in India for the assessment year 2018-19. Moreover, you need to do tax saving in India with twofold goals- decrease tax liability and increase return on investments. While tax saving is essential, you should strive to invest prudently to reap the maximum benefit of the savings.
If you are an NRI and searching for investment options with tax saving benefits, you should realise that there are various options for the same. Take a look at these tax saving options for NRIs in A.Y. 2018-19:
For money to be parked for short-term or long-term investments, NRI can have any one of three following types of banks accounts:
Non-Resident External Rupee Account (NRE): In this type of account, your funds in foreign currency are converted into Indian rupees and the rate prevailing at the time of conversion is applicable. The benefit here is-Interest earned on NRE account is exempt from tax for an individual who qualifies as a ‘person resident outside India’ under the exchange control law.
Non-Resident Ordinary Rupee Account (NRO): Interest earned on NRO account (savings or fixed) is fully taxable. A deduction up to Rs 10,000 may be claimed for interest earned on savings account while filing the tax return.
Foreign Currency Non-Resident Bank Deposit (FCNR): It is a term deposit or fixed deposit account, where NRIs can deposit their money in foreign currency. The deposits canbe made for a minimum maturity period of one year and maximum maturity period of 5 years. The interest earned under this account is tax-free, whereas the principal amount is taxed under wealth tax.
Other popular means of claiming a deduction from gross total income is via Section 80C.
Deductions Under Section 80C
NRIs can invest in term insurance, a type of life cover, which provides financial coverage to the insured. If the insured expires during the tenure of the policy, then death benefit is payable to the nominee. A deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh is allowed for the premium paid towards term insurance plans as per Section 80C. This deduction can be claimed where the plan has been purchased in the NRI’s name or the name of his/her spouse. Moreover, purchasing online insurance plans like term plans has turned out to be simple, hence you can easily go for these online insurance plans and avail tax benefits on the premium payable.
Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs)
Unit Linked Insurance Plans offer duals benefits of life insurance and investment. Some part of the premium is utilised as insurance coverage to the policyholder, while the remaining amount is invested in various debt and equity schemes. As with all life insurance plans, the amount invested in a ULIP is available for tax deductions for NRIs.
Subject to certain conditions, the premium paid for ULIPs is allowed as a deduction under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. ULIP premium can be deducted from your taxable income up to Rs 1.5 lakh, which is currently the permissible limit.
Loan to Buy a Home
Buying a house property is beneficial for you (NRI) as the interest income and principal income will allow for a tax rebate. The total deduction for interest payment on home advances is Rs 1.5 lakh, whereas the principal amount repayment on home loan already qualifies for a tax rebate of Rs 1 lakh.
Equity Linked Mutual Fund schemes (ELSS)
For NRIs, ELSS also offers similar benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. ELSS are equity-linked mutual fund schemes investing in a diversified portfolio of Indian stocks. ELSS schemes can be purchased online, yet remember, there is an element of risk in ELSS as money is put into equity markets. Be that as it may, they are tax efficient instruments for NRIs.
National Pension Scheme (NPS)
You can subscribe to NPS if you have retained your Indian citizenship and planned to retire in India. You can contribute to NPS from NRE and NRO accounts. However, the pension needs to be received in India only and cannot be repatriated. Your investment up to 1.5 lakh can be used to avail tax deductions.
NPS comes under EET tax structure (Exempt-Exempt-Tax) and is a cost-effective, government-backed retirement savings plan. All the contributions and accrued capital gains are exempt from tax; however, withdrawal is subject to tax.
NRIs can take health insurance from Indian companies for themselves or their family members and claim a deduction for the premium paid under Section 80D. Additionally, health plans like cancer insurance plans serve as monthly income plan with different payout options made available upon diagnosis of the disease. The availability monthly income plan feature offers a comprehensive financial coverage for the life assured as well as his family.
The deduction for health insurance is up to Rs25,000 for insurance of self. You can claim a deduction for insurance of parents up to Rs30,000 if their parents are a senior citizen (above 60 years) and Rs25,000 if the parents are below 60 years.
Education Loan- Deduction under Section 80E
Like resident Indians, NRIs can also take educational loans and claim tax deductions on the interest paid under section 80E. This loan might be either taken for higher education for self, spouse or children.
Besides, there is no limit on the amount which can be claimed as a deduction, and deduction is offered for a maximum of eight years or till the interest is paid, whichever is earlier.Additionally, no deduction is allowed on the principal repayment of the loan.
As an NRI, you are qualified for tax exemptions on specific investments in India. Before investing, you should make an informed choice by understanding tax laws in India, in addition to the nation of your residence. Moreover, you must select tax saving instruments which would enable repatriation of income at maturity. Your investment decisions should consider your life objectives and also repatriation restrictions on investments in India.