You need not pay tax deducted at source (TDS) on your passive income like rental income or interest earned from bank deposits, which are eligible for TDS, if your total income is below the taxable limit. To ensure no TDS is charged on such income, you can submit Form 15G or 15H to the relevant institution or person.
TDS is the process of collecting tax as and when the income is generated. It streamlines the process of collecting taxes for the tax department. TDS is applicable on several incomes such as salary, interest, commission, rent, brokerage, professional fees, royalty, and others. It is deducted at the prescribed rate by the tax department if the permanent account number (PAN) is provided by the recipient of the income or at the rate of 20% in the absence of PAN, whichever is higher.
Tenants can deduct tax at 5% if the rent is more than ₹50,000 per month, while banks charge a TDS of 10% on interest earned on deposits.
These are essentially self-declaration forms to give an undertaking that your income is below the threshold limit of income tax and hence exempt from tax. Form 15G is for those who are younger than 60 years and form 15H is for those above 60 years of age.
When you submit Form 15G or 15H to a bank or a tenant, they will not deduct TDS from the amount payable to you in the form of interest or rent, provided that the amount payable is below the tax threshold.
The person or institution charging TDS is liable to deposit the taxes to the income tax department. Typically, banks deduct TDS on interest income in deposits on a quarterly basis. Once TDS is deducted and submitted to the IT department, and if you are not liable to pay that tax, the only way to get it back is to file your returns for the year.
This would mean a significant delay in getting back the money. For instance, if your bank has deducted TDS on your interest income for the April-June quarter in July 2018, you will need to file your tax return for FY19 in 2019 and will get the refund only after the return is processed.
When to submit
This delay can be avoided if you submit the required declaration at the beginning of the financial year itself.
Remember that you need to submit this form separately for different sources of income. For instance, if you have fixed deposits in three banks, you need to give Form 15G or 15H to each bank. You will need to submit this form each year.
The forms are available on the tax department’s website, incometaxindia.gov.in, and at bank and post office branches. Some banks also allow you to submit these forms online.
Before you use these forms to prevent TDS, make sure that your tax liability during the year is expected to be nil. A penalty applies if the tax department finds out that the assessee is deliberately avoiding TDS to evade taxes.
If you have already submitted one of these forms, but realise later in the year that your income is more than what you evaluated, assess your liability on the extra income and pay tax accordingly.