Budget 2020 is a mixed bag and for the first time it provides the option to choose your tax slab. You have two slabs to choose from. The well understood old one and the new one. New one offers lower tax slabs but without any deductions (except for select few like 80CCD(2)).
There is nothing simple to having two slabs as option. Let’s compare the two and try to understand which one is better and under what circumstances.
Circumstance is the key word here; hence there are so many articles and videos which try to explain this using specific examples. I am not going into a specific case. But will use the power of graphs to plot all possible scenarios from income level 0 to 2Cr. This will hopefully provide some more insight into this mess.
In the below interactive chart the blue line is the tax amount (including applicable surcharge and 4% cess) as per the new slab. The orange line is the tax as per the old slab but without claiming any deductions. It is clear that purely slab-wise the new plan is lighter on tax. The jumps at 50L and 1Cr points are due to surcharges – 10% after 50L and 15% after 1Cr. Irrespective of that the tax as per new slab linearly increases similar to old slab while maintaining almost same difference.
Interactive chart 1
From the graph above it might look like taxes from both slabs are exactly equidistant but if we zoom onto the green line at the bottom, we can see that it is not exactly that.
The difference increases as we move towards higher income. It is fixed after 15L slab. After that it increases in steps at 50L & 1Cr points.
What is clear is that as your income increase you need to claim more deductions to benefit from the old slabs.
Zooming into the portion before 15L shows a pretty unpredictable “wavy” difference. That means predicting if you will loose or gain if you use the new plan is much harder here. What is clear is that as your income increase you need to claim more deductions to benefit from the old slabs.
The below interactive chart shows the amount of deductions you need to claim in old slab to just match the tax benefits you get from new slab. In the topmost interactive chart this data is shown by red line near the bottom of the chart.
Interactive chart 2
From 15L point it pretty fixed. You need to claim more than 2.5L of deductions to get benefit from old slab.
From 15L point it pretty fixed. You need to claim more than 2.5L of deductions to get benefit from old slab. If you cannot then switch to new slab. Out of 2.5L 50k Standard deduction you get for free, so what is left is 2L deduction. For that you need to max out your 80C, and NPS or 80D. If you have a home loan then it would be easier because you can claim 2L per annum of interest amount you paid for home loans. However, loans typically have more interest component towards the start and more principal amount at the end. To see how much interest you are paying year wise see – https://blog.applegrew.com/2019/01/calculating-amortisation-schedule-of-your-loans/.
The big dips after exact 50L and 1Cr points are due to surcharges. Even claiming a small deduction can bring your income to a slab where surcharge is zero or less, making your taxes match the gain in new slab. However, this lasts for approximate 4.5L range.
Let’s have a look at the range before 15L point more closely.
From 5L to 7.5L range the required deduction linearly increases from zero to 1.24L. So if you max out your 80C then that is good enough reason for you to keep using old slab.
From 7.5L to 10L range the rate of increase in required deduction amount lessens. At 10L point the required deduction is 1.88L. This plateaus out and continues until 12L point like that. Removing 50k, we are left with 1.38L deductions to fulfil. Here too if you just max out your 80C then old slab is great for you.
12L to 12.5L is one small range and then 12.5 to 15L range. The deduction for this range varies from 1.88L to 2.08L and 2.08L to 2.5L respectively. Here you need to pretty much max out 80C with NPS or 80D or should have home loans.
HRA is also one significant amount which I have not considered here. All in all figure out your gross income then use interactive chart 2 and locate your income level on x-axis. That should provide you with the min deduction amount you need claim to benefit from old slab. Add all your actual deductions and see if that fits the requirement.
However, even after the flat 50k deduction if you have the need to switch to new tax then you are not saving enough!
Update1: I almost forgot about Standard deduction of 50k which you get in old slabs but not in new one. Updated the article accordingly.