The New Pension Scheme (NPS) was introduced by the Union Government in 2003. According to the new scheme, employees appointed on or after January 1, 2004 will contribute 10 per cent of their Pay and Dearness Allowance to the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority under the Ministry of Finance. An equal amount will be contributed by the Centre. The scheme is mandatory for Government employees, but optional for other citizens of India. NPS merely declared that tax benefits would be applicable as per the Income Tax Act 1961 as amended from time to time.
THE NEW SECTION 36(1
The Finance Act, 2011 has inserted a new Section 36 (1)(iva) with effect from assessment year 2012-13 to provide that an assessee will get a deduction in respect of contribution towards a pension scheme referred in Section 80CCD of the Act on account of an employee up to 10 per cent of the salary of the employee in the previous year. For this purpose, ‘salary' includes DA, if the terms of ‘employment' so provide, but excludes all other allowances and perquisites.
Currently, contribution made by an employer towards a recognised provident fund, an approved superannuation fund or an approved gratuity fund is allowable as a deduction from business income under Section 36, subject to certain limits.
However contribution made by an employer to the NPS is not allowed as a deduction. The newly inserted clause provides that any sum paid by the assessee as an employer by way of contribution towards the pension scheme on account of an employee to the extent it does not exceed 10 per cent of the salary of the employee in the previous year, shall be allowed as deduction in computing the income under the head ‘Profits and gains of business or profession'.
No doubt, such deduction would have been available under Section 37. The matter, however, is placed beyond doubt by the new Section. It should, however, be noted that deduction would be available only upon actual payment. The term ‘employee' will include all employees including Director-employees. The limit of 10 per cent will apply to each employee individually. The Finance Act has also amended Section 40A (9) for this purpose.
LIMITS ON DEDUCTION
Section 80CCE provides that the aggregate amount of deduction under Section 80CCC and 80CCD shall not exceed Rs 1 lakh. The Finance Act, 2011 provides that contribution made by the Central Government or any other employer to NPS shall be excluded while computing the limit of Rs 1,00,000. The contribution by the employee to the NPS will be subject to the limit of Rs 1,00,000.
At the same time, deduction in respect of contributions by the Central Government or any other employer to NPS available under Section 80CCD (2) will not be subject to the limit specified in Section 80CCE. This provides a leeway for employees to seek a restructuring of the pay. Employers may be willing to include the contribution to the NPS in the pay package and claim 10 per cent of the salary as deduction. Depending on the pay scales, such restructuring may offer a benefit to both the employer and the employee.
Deduction for contribution to the NPS in the hands of the employer and the exclusion of such contributions in the hands of the employees in computing the exemption under Section 80C will mean a morale booster for the employer and the employee.
(The author is a former Chief Commissioner of Income-Tax.)