The government has hiked the limits of gratuity payment from Rs 3.5 lakhs to Rs 10 lakhs. This enhanced limit is applicable to employees who retire, become incapacitated before retirement, expire or whose services were terminated on or after May 24, 2010.
As per Section 10(10) of Income Tax Act, gratuity is paid when an employee completes five or more years of full-time service with the employer. In respect of government employees, any death-cum-retirement gratuity received under the pension rules or scheme of the central or state government, or regulations applicable to the members of defence services, is not taxable.
In case of gratuity received under the Gratuity Act, 1972, any gratuity received to the extent that it does not exceed an amount calculated in accordance with the provisions of the Gratuity Act is not taxable. For employees receiving gratuity other than under the government pension or gratuity scheme and also other than under the Payment of Gratuity Act, the computation mechanism in respect of exemption limits has been specified in the IT Act. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued a notification increasing the overall tax exemption to Rs 10 lakhs.
The gratuity received by an employee is not taxable if it is received on his retirement, his becoming incapacitated prior to such retirement, termination of employment or if such gratuity is received by his widow, children or dependants on his death. Further, such gratuity does not exceed one-half month’s salary for each year of completed service, calculated on the basis of the average salary for 10 months immediately preceding the month in which such retirement or death takes place, subject to the limits prescribed by the central government.
Salary for this purpose includes dearness allowance, but excludes all other allowances and perquisites. Also, as per some judicial precedents, completed service would mean a total period of service whether under one employer or more.
In case any such gratuities are received by an employee from more than one employer in the same financial year, the aggregate amount so exempt should not exceed the overall exemption limit. Similarly, if gratuities were received in one or more financial years, the exempt amount claimed earlier has to be taken into account while computing the exemption at present.