Update on February 1, 2019: TDS exemption on rent increased from Rs 1.8 lakhs to Rs 2.40 lakhs. There will also be an exemption on the notional rent of second homes which are self-occupied as well, as per the Interim Budget 2019.
Existing TDS provisions on rent paid
Tax deduction at source (TDS), is a process in which the payer of the income, pays you the income after deducting tax at the prescribed rates.
The existing provisions of Section 194I of the Income Tax Act, casts a duty on the payer of rent to deduct tax at the rate of 10% of the rent on any land or building, if the aggregate of the rent paid or likely to be paid during the year exceeds Rs 1.80 lakhs.
The limit of Rs 1.80 lakhs is applicable for each payee and not for each of the properties.
So, in case the owner of a property has let-out more than one property to the same lessee and the annual rent whereof, is less than Rs 1.80 lakhs for each property annually but the aggregate of the rent for all the properties taken on rent from the same person is likely to exceed Rs 1.80 lakhs, then, the lessee has to deduct the tax at source.
The present provisions are applicable to all tax payers, including companies, firms, trusts or association of persons, etc.
However, if the payer of rent is an individual or HUF, the provisions will apply if the payer of the rent is engaged in a business or profession and the accounts were required to be audited during the preceding year, due to the turnover being in excess of the prescribed limit.
The persons covered under this provision, are required to deduct the tax when the payment is being made to a tax payer who is resident in India, for tax purposes and the rent payment exceeds Rs 1.80 lakhs in a year.
If the lessor is a non-resident for income tax purposes, the payer has to deduct tax under the provisions of Section 195 of the Income Tax Act, without there being any threshold limit of Rs 1.80 lakhs per annum.
The payment may be called by any name but the tax is required to be deducted, in case the payment is for use of land, building or land and building.
It is not necessary that the recipient of the rent should be the owner of the property. So, in case a lessee sublets the property taken by him on rent/lease to any other person, then, the sub-lessee has to deduct tax at source.
Likewise, tax is required to be deducted from payments made to hotels, for providing rooms to you in case the rent is likely to exceed the limit during the year.
The payer of the rent is required to deduct the tax at the time of crediting the rent in its books of accounts, even if the payment is made later. Likewise, you need to deduct the tax at the time of making an advance payment of such rent, either for the year or even in cases where the rent is paid in advance for more than one year. For payment of the TDS to the credit of the government, you need to obtain the tax deduction account number (TAN) and deposit the tax through the prescribed challan.
Expanded scope of TDS on rent paid
In order to bring more taxpayers into the tax net, the government has expanded the scope of the tax deduction at source on rent paid. This will cover all individuals and HUF, which are not covered under the existing provisions as explained above. Each individual and HUF will have to deduct tax at source on rent being paid, at the rate of 5% in case the amount of rent for each month or part of the month is more than Rs 50,000.
The payer is required to deduct tax only in the last month of the year or during the last month of tenancy in case the property is vacated during the year. However, in case the rent is paid earlier, you are required to deduct tax at the earlier moment.
So, with the new provisions, even the people who are salaried or retired and not carrying on any business or profession but are paying rent above Rs 50,000 per month, will have to deduct tax at source from such rental. This will bring those people into the tax net, who are earning rent by letting out the property to people who are not engaged in any business or profession.
Since the rent for this purpose includes any payment for use of building, this will even cover the rent paid by you to hotels for room bookings, or even to marriage halls, in case the rent for use of such premises exceeds Rs 50,000 even for one day.
The provisions only cover the recipient of rent who is a resident for income tax purposes, as non-residents are already covered under section 195 of Income Tax Act. Even though the existing provision requires people to obtain the TAN number, the new provision exempts the payers from such requirement.
(The author is a tax and investment expert, with 35 years’ experience)