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A large number of NRIs do not file taxes, as they live overseas and therefore believe that there is no need. However, there are two major situations when NRIs should file returns in India. Firstly, if the income earned in India exceeds the maximum permissible limit as basic exemption. At this point, the maximum exemption limit is Rs. 250,000. Incomes like salary arising from services provided in India, income from house property, capital gains arising from sale of property in India, income from deposits held in India will be taxable in India. Secondly, they should be filed to claim return if deducted tax is more than what was payable, so that you can claim a refund.

There are two major situations when NRIs should file returns in India. Firstly, if the income earned in India exceeds the maximum permissible limit as basic exemption. At this point, the maximum exemption limit is Rs. 250,000. Incomes like salary arising from services provided in India, income from house property, capital gains arising from sale of property in India, income from deposits held in India will be taxable in India. Secondly, they should be filed to claim return if deducted tax is more than what was payable, so that you can claim a refund.

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A lot of NRIs are unaware of the fact that in order to track expenses and investments above a certain threshold for all individuals – residents or NRIs, Annual Information Reports (AIRs) have to be filed by various entities in India like banks, Mutual funds,  bond issuers, registrars for real estate purchases above a certain value, amongst other transactions. Therefore, you could get a notice due to these reasons if your name appears in an AIR and you are not filing tax returns. Whilst this may not mean that taxes are due, you will need to respond to the notice, which can be rather challenging if you are out of the country. Thus, it is advisable to have your taxes in India in order.

If you are a tax resident in geographies where you may be able to take tax advantage of the double taxation avoidance treaty between India and that country, you must take advantage of that. If you sell direct equity/stocks, short term capital gain applicable is 15%. The long term capital gain on sale of direct equity is Nil ie for equities held over 1 year. NRIs have to trade through a broker if they wish to invest in direct equities. They can trade only on delivery basis and intraday trades are not allowed. They have to open a Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS) account where their trades get reported within 24 hours.

If you are a tax resident in geographies where you may be able to take tax advantage of the double taxation avoidance treaty between India and that country, you must take advantage of that.

Debt and Equity Mutual Fundshave different tax rules. For equity Mutual funds the tax rate applicable is 15% for holding period of less than 12 months and for holding period of greater than 12 months it is Nil. Non equity mutual funds ie debt funds, gold funds, are taxed like real estate ie the tax rate for a holding period of less than 36 months is as per the marginal rate. If you hold them for a period greater than 36 months a long term capital gain tax rate of 20% with indexation is applicable .

If you are looking at investment options to save for your retirement goal then New Pension Scheme is an option you can look at. NRIs are allowed to invest in NPS.

NPS is useful for NRIs living in Middle Eastern countries, since they do not have mandatory social security benefits in their countries of residence unlike many other geographies. NRIs own contribution is eligible for tax deduction u/s 80CCD (1) of income tax act up to 10% of gross income with overall ceiling of Rs. 1.50 lakhs u/s 80CCE of income tax act.From FY 201516investors are allowed tax deduction of additional Rs. 50,000 under 80CCD1(B).

NRIs wishingto invest in FDs can look at Foreign Currency Non Resident ( FCNR) deposits. It is in the form of a fixed Term deposit account denominated in foregin currencies. In this case NRIs can park overseas income as foreign currency in India without having toconvert it to Indian Rupees. The rates on these deposits depend on tenure of investment and the currency in which you park your funds. Principal and interest are fully repatriable. For NRIs interest is not taxable in India. However, they could be taxed in the country of residence of the NRI, for example in the US. Similar is the case with NRE accounts.

A resident foreign currency account (RFC) account can be used by NRIs who are returning back to settle in India, to park overseas income as foreign currency in India without having to convert them into rupees. Funds are fully repatriable and can be transferred from RFC to NRE and vice versa. Interest earned on RFC account will be exempt from income tax as long as you are Resident but not ordinary resident (RNOR).

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We all have multiple goals, which we plan to achieve at different points in our lives but retirement tends to be one of the biggest goals. Unlike other goals, which have limited periods of outflows, for example higher education for children could last for 4-7 years depending upon the choice of course, but in the case of retirement,you chalk out a plan for the rest of your life,possibly for almost 1/4th of your life assuming life expectancy till 80 years and retirement age to be 60 years. This implies that the sooner you start the better it is.

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If you are in your 40s then your kids might be in school and as you move towards the late 40s, your kids will be finishing schooling and you may be nearing you child’s graduation goal. The fact that retirement occurs very late in your life maymean that you tend to keep it aside and start working towards your near term goals like your child’s higher education. This way you will never really find an appropriate time to start saving for your retirement.

If you have not started yet, then start now.

Here is what you can do:

Determine goal value

Determine the current value of your expenses. Calculate the cost you would need in the year of your retirement by applying inflation to it. Estimate the expenses which you will incur post retirement. Remember there will be some difference in those expenses. For instance your household expenses will reduce since your kids will be independent by then. You lifestyle expenses could decrease, your medical expenses could go up, your loans could be totally paid off so you may not have any EMI burden, most insurance policies may have matured, so there will not be any premiums outflow to be planned for. Be reasonable while estimating expenses. Do not go overboard nor be overly conservative.

Investment for your goal

You may find the amount of investment that you need to make this goal achievable, will be greater than what it would have otherwise been had you started earlier. This does not mean you need to go up to 100% equity or riskier assets just to accumulatethe desired corpus in lesser amount of time. The correct approach is to have an asset allocation in place depending upon your risk tolerance and appetite. Take calculated risks. If you are too conservative, it may not serve the purpose because it will keep you from generating inflation beating returns. Being too aggressive on the other hand will also not help because risk of loss will be higher since you are not diversifying across asset classes.

After you have an asset allocation in place, you will need to choose products to invest. Since equity performs well if you stay invested for the long term, you can allocate more towards equity, little less towards debt and some amount in gold for diversification purpose. On the equity side you can look at Equity mutual funds. Go for open ended diversified mutual funds. Avoid closed ended products. Within equity funds you can look at flexi cap funds where it is a mix of large, mid or small cap. If you are in a higher tax bracket and you have not exhausted your 80 C limit you can look at Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS).

As you get older, increase exposure to debt and reduce equity. On the debt side you can look at Public Provident Fund which has a lock-in period of 15 years. Beyond that it is extendable every five years. NRIs cannot open a PPF account. If you already have a PPF and in between your status changes to NRI then you will not be allowed to extend for five years once your PPF matures. The EEE ( Exempt Exempt Exempt) status of PPF makes it an attractive investment option especially in a falling interest scenario like the one we are in right now.If you are employed, look at contributions to the Voluntary Provident Fund ( VPF). You can also look at balanced funds which are a mix of ~65% in equity and rest in fixed income if you want a bit of both.

New Pension Scheme (NPS) is another option which is again a good investment option for retirement since it will provide regular income post your retirement. It will also enable you to take an additional deduction of Rs. 50,000 under section 80CCD 1 B which is over and above the Rs. 1.50 lakh benefit under 80C.

To add gold to your portfolio you can use a Gold ETF or buy Gold bonds.

Remember, we are in a dynamic environment. Therefore your investments will need to be reviewed and rebalanced periodically.

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budget2016

 

Reams of paper have probably been dedicated to the Union Budget already, but here is a detailed analysis after going through the fine print in terms of Budget 2016 and its impact on your personal finances.

Your Income

  1. House Rent Allowance change: This has been hitherto a lesser used deduction as it comes with multiple conditions. Section 80GG allows individuals to claim a deduction in respect of house rent paid. The limit has gone up from Rs 24,000 previously to Rs 60,000 subject to following conditions:

a.If the person is either self-employed or salaried but does not receive deduction for       HRA from the employer

b.Does not own a residential property in the city in which he is staying on rent.

c.If the tax payer owns property at any place other than the one mentioned above, he        should not be claiming benefit of the property as self occupied. That property should be deemed to be let out.

To claim this deduction the tax payer has to furnish a declaration in Form 10 BA

The deduction allowed under section 80GG for payment of rent shall be least of the following:

  1. 5,000 per month
  2. Rent paid less 10% of the total income
  3. 25% of the total income of the tax payer for the year.

Your Expenses

  1. Tax collection at Source introduced – TCS of 1% on purchase of luxury cars of value greater than Rs. 10 lakhs and purchase of goods and services in cash exceeding Rs. 2 lakhs is now being levied. This does not change the price of the product but will create a trail of transactions in cash of high values, targeting cash usage.
  2. Increase in service tax – Service tax has been increased by 0.5% on all taxable services, with effect from 1 June 2016. As a result, expect the costs of all services to go up.
  3. Infrastructure cess- 1% on small petrol, LPG, CNG cars, 2.5% on diesel cars and 4% on high engine capacity vehicles and SUVs, will mean that cars will become more expensive.
  4. Excise duty on branded ready made garments – garments with a retail price of Rs. 1000 and above has changed from Nil to 2% without input tax credit. Thus, expect garments to become a wee bit more expensive.
  5. Excise duty on tobacco hiked – expect cigarettes to be more expensive as a result.

Your Investments

  1. Long Term Capital Gains tax on equities and debt investments did not see any change – This is positive for investors, as there were fears around tax being introduced on equities or the holding period for equities being changed. Status quo is good news.
  2. New Pension Scheme (NPS) – There are 3 types of withdrawals currently allowed under the NPS.
  3. Normal Superannuation – Lump sum withdrawal on retirement, which was 60% earlier has been changed to 40% now. Earlier this withdrawal was taxable. Now the government has proposed withdrawal upto 40% to be tax free. The balance 60% can be used  for purchasing annuities, to make the annuity portion tax free as well. Thus, the NPS is far more attractive as an instrument to be used for your retirement goals now, especially as its ability to permit equity exposure enables you to get the wealth creation benefit of equities over the long term.
  4. Upon death- The entire 100% would be paid to the nominee/ legal heir and there won’t be any purchase of annuity. These entire 100% proceeds are tax free.
  5. Exit before normal superannuation( 60 years) – At least 80% of the acculturated pension wealth of the subscriber should be utilized for purchase of an annuity and remaining 20% can be withdrawn as lump sum. Considering that this is a long term retirement product, be sure to use the NPS to fund your retirement goals, as early withdrawals make it less flexible.
  6. Other pension products like EPF and superannuation – There has been an attempt to bring all pension products on the same page in terms of taxation. Therefore, EPF and superannuation will also permit 40% of the corpus withdrawn to be tax free. The interest earned on the balance 60% of the contributions made post April 1, 2016 will be subject to tax unless it is used to purchase an annuity.

There is also proposed a monetary limit for contribution of employers to a recognized Provident and superannuation fund of Rs. 1.50 Lakh per annum or 12% of employer contribution, whichever is less, beyond which the same will be taxable in the hand of the employee. You could see smaller contributions towards the EPF from employers going forward as a result, and voluntary Provident Fund contributions could also reduce as a result.

  1. REITS (Real Estate Investment Trusts) and InvITs ( Infrastructure Investment Trust) – Real Estate Investment trusts are listed entities that primarily invest in leased office and real assets allowing developers to raise funds by selling completed buildings to investors and listing them as a trust. Previously REITs did not take off due to taxation challenges. This budget has done away with Dividend Distribution Tax, thus enabling exposure to commercial real estate at lower values.

Expect Infrastructure Investment Trusts to also take off as a result of this change in dividend distribution tax provisions.

  1. Gold Bonds- Long term capital gains from the sale of gold bonds will continue to be taxable but now eligible for indexation benefits. This facilitates taking exposure to gold in a paper form.

The budget has also proposed to make interest and capital gains from the gold monetization scheme tax free. Thus yields from gold are possibly now more attractive than rental yields from residential real estate, considering that the returns are tax free.

  1. Measures for deepening of corporate Bond Market-

a. LICof india will setup a dedicated fund to provide credit enhancement to infrastructure projects. The fund will help in raising credit rating of bonds floated by infrastructure companies.

b.Development of an online auction platform for development of private placement market in corporate bonds.

c.A complete information repository for corporate bonds covering both primary and     secondary market segments will be developed jointly by SEBI and RBI.

d.A framework for an electronic platform for Repo market in corporate bonds will be    developed by RBI.

This will enable investors to invest in corporate bonds and give them another option to add fixed income exposure to their portfolio.

  1. Fiscal target to be maintained at 3.5% – With the government sticking to its target of 3.5% of GDP for FY 17, fiscal discipline has been adhered to for now. This could lead to drop in bond yields and could be particularly positive for duration funds or portfolios having longer duration bonds. Transmission of falling interest rates could finally be a reality.

Your Taxes

  1. There has been no major change in income tax slabs , for individuals earning upto Rs 1 crore.
  2. Surcharge- There has been an increase in Surcharge on income above Rs. 1 Crore from 12% to 15%.

For an individual below 60 years with an income above 1 Crore ( eg. 1.1 Crore), he will end up paying approximately Rs 91,000 more due to the 3% increase in Surcharge.

  1. Rebate- Under Section 87A, for individuals with income not exceeding Rs. 5 lakhs, the rebate has increased from Rs. 2,000 earlier to Rs. 5,000.
  1. Dividend Distribution Tax- The amendment in dividend distribution tax law is applicable to dividend declared under Section 115O. The section is applicable to domestic companies and it is proposed to amend the Income-tax Act so as to provide that any income by way of dividend in excess of Rs. 10 lakh declared by such domestic company shall be chargeable to tax at the rate of 10%.The above amendment will have no impact on the dividends received by the Mutual Fund unit holders as dividend paid by a mutual fund scheme to a unit holder is covered under Section 115R of the The Income tax Act, 1961. This will hit investors drawing higher dividends but since it is not applicable to dividends from mutual funds it’s a relief.
  2. Presumptive Tax – This scheme is available for small and medium enterprises with turnover not exceeding 1 crore rupees. These were free from getting audited and maintaining detailed books of account and could pay tax at 8% .This turnover limit has increased to Rs. 2 Crore.

Also under the presumptive taxation for professionals with gross receipts up to Rs. 50          Lakh, the presumption of profits has been introduced to 50% of gross receipts.

This should result in significant time saving and costs for professionals and small business owners. However, remember to read the fine print on this clause.

  1. Reduction in tax slabs for companies with business income upto Rs 5 crores – The path to reduction of corporate tax rates has begun with a 1% reduction in tax rates for smaller businesses. Expect more to follow going forward.
  2. Undisclosed income – A window from 01 June 2016 to 30 Sep 2016 has been introduced for people to pay 45% on their undisclosed domestic income. This undisclosed income will not be subject to any scrutiny if done within this window. This is an attempt to garner additional revenues and solve the challenges of black money.

Your Loans

  1. Additional deduction of Rs. 50,000- For first time home buyers an additional deduction of Rs.50,000 on top of already existing Rs. 2 lakh has been proposed for loans upto Rs. 35 lakh sanctioned during the next financial year subject to the value of property not exceeding Rs. 50 lakh.

All in all, it’s a budget that will probably not change your money life significantly – but it has a little here and a little there. “Fortunately, there is a sane equilibrium in the character of nations. As there is in that of men.”

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With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowing non-resident Indians (NRIs) to invest in the New Pension Scheme (NPS), one more investment avenue has now opened up for NRIs keen to plan for retirement.

Ret challenges

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Challenges of retirement planning

NRIs are possibly as guilty as resident Indians of not saving and investing adequately for retirement. Some of them give priority to other goals like children’s education and marriage or infusing funds into their business, to the detriment of a crucial goal like retirement. Many are not conscious of how inflation and galloping medical expenses will cause their monthly expenses to balloon, and hence underestimate the corpus needed for retirement. With human life span increasing, the risk that one may outlive one’s retirement savings has become very real.

NRIs planning to spend their sunset years in India should also factor in the cost of buying a house here, especially of the kind that they would enjoy with respect to facilities and security. Housing prices have risen exponentially in all the major cities over the past decade. Overwhelming reliance on physical assets like gold and real estate, and aversion to equities are other obstacles that NRIs need to overcome to be able to invest effectively for retirement.

Investment options available

Since retirement would be a long term goal for younger NRIs, their investment portfolios should be tilted heavily towards growth assets like equities. Investing directly in equities may be difficult for NRIs, given the challenges of tracking stocks while living in another country. Equity mutual funds are a more suitable option for them. With India having emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, NRIs can expect their equity investments to fetch them good returns.

The balance portion of an NRI portfolio should be filled with debt instruments like debt mutual funds, fixed maturity plans (FMPs), tax free bonds and bank fixed deposits. A small portion may be allocated to gold exchange traded funds (ETFs) for diversification. To this range of options, NRIs may now add NPS.

nps

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Pros and cons of NPS

What works?

The biggest advantage of NPS is its ultra-low fund management fee. By paying a very low fee, the investor gets the benefit of professional fund management. These low charges will boost the long-term returns from NPS.

The biggest advantage of NPS is its ultra-low fund management fee. By paying a very low fee,

NPS also offers equity exposure, albeit only up to 50%. Long-term returns from equities are likely to be higher than if you invest the same money in debt products, considering past data.

NPS also offers equity exposure, albeit only up to 50%.

NPS also allows investors the flexibility to change their allocation to different asset classes (equities, bonds and G-Secs) and to shift between pension fund managers, based on their track record.

NPS also allows investors the flexibility to change their allocation to different asset classes (equities, bonds and G-Secs) and to shift between pension fund managers, based on their track record.

What does not work?

NPS does come with a few drawbacks too. One, it falls under the EET regime, which means that the final corpus gets taxed at the time of withdrawal. Also, you can’t withdraw your funds before reaching 60. If you do so, you will have to use 80% of the corpus to buy an annuity. And even if you withdraw your corpus at 60, you have to compulsorily use 40% of the corpus to buy annuity. Returns from annuities tend to be lower globally.

The final corpus gets taxed at the time of withdrawal. Also, you can’t withdraw your funds before reaching 60. If you do so, you will have to use 80% of the corpus to buy an annuity. And even if you withdraw your corpus at 60, you have to compulsorily use 40% of the corpus to buy annuity.

Make informed choices

You have the choice of an active option or the auto option. Under the first, you can choose your allocation to equities, bonds and government securities, while under the second your investments are put on auto pilot. Under the auto pilot option, initially, your investment is divided in the following proportion: 50% to equities, 30% to bonds and 20% to G-Secs. This allocation remains unchanged until 35. From age 36, the allocation to equities is reduced by two percentage points every year and to bonds by one percentage points, while the exposure to government securities is increased. Thus, the allocation to safer government securities rises as you approach retirement.

You have the choice of an active option or the auto option. Under the first, you can choose your allocation to equities, bonds and government securities, while under the second your investments are put on auto pilot.

NRIs with some knowledge of investing and having a modicum of risk appetite should opt for the Active Choice option. As it is, NPS limits your exposure to equities to just 50%. By adopting the Auto Choice option, you will reduce your exposure to equities even further. Having such low exposure to equities in a long-term goal like retirement is uncalled for, and will affect the size of your final corpus adversely.

If you decide to go with the Active Choice option, the next question is how much you should allocate to equities, bonds and government securities. In our view, given the long-term investment horizon, you should invest in equities up to the maximum permissible limit of 50%. Divide the balance between bonds and government securities. Start reducing your allocation to equities about five years prior to retirement.

If you decide to go with the Active Choice option, the next question is how much you should allocate to equities, bonds and government securities. In our view, given the long-term investment horizon, you should invest in equities up to the maximum permissible limit of 50%. Divide the balance between bonds and government securities. Start reducing your allocation to equities about five years prior to retirement.

Next, how do you go about selecting the fund manager? You are permitted to select only one fund manager for managing all three assets: equities, bonds and government securities. So choose one with a reasonably good track record across all three categories, and review annually.

The opening up of NPS to NRI investment is a welcome development. NRIs should take full advantage of this product while planning their finances for retirement.

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