Ajit, currently employed with Company A, is staying in a rented apartment in Mumbai and has bought himself a property in Chennai for which he has taken a home loan. He finds himself in a dilemma while filing tax returns — "Can I claim both HRA and home loan benefits?" This seems to be a confusing factor for most tax payers. When Ajit pays rent, under the Income tax act, he is definitely allowed to claim both HRA and home loan benefits (interest payment and principal repayment).
Let us evaluate various possible situations an individual can find himself in and understand what the income tax act permits him to do.
1: You live in your own house
You have taken a home loan and residing in the house purchased with it. Since you are residing in your own house, you will not be able to claim HRA. However, you will be able to claim tax benefits on both, the principal and interest repaid on the home loan.
2: You own a house in another city
This situation was the one faced by Ajit. He resided in Mumbai but had bought an apartment in Chennai taking a home loan. Ajit will be entitled to HRA exemption and tax benefits on both, the principal and interest repaid on the home loan.
3: Your house cannot be occupied at this point (e.g. under construction)
You have bought a house in Mumbai taking a home loan and you're currently living in Mumbai in a rented apartment because the house is under construction. In such a case, you are eligible to claim HRA.
In the case of tax breaks on the home loan, you can claim tax benefits only for your principal before the completion of your house. Once your house is completed, you can claim tax benefits on the total interest paid up to the date of completion in five equal installments in five years beginning from the year of completion.
4: You have a house which is ready for occupation but you cannot reside in it
You have bought a house in Delhi taking a home loan and now you aren't residing in it but are living in a rented apartment in Delhi itself for genuine reasons e.g. the house that you have bought is far away from your office. In such cases, the Income tax act permits the individual to claim HRA and home loan benefits which includes both principal and interest repaid on the home loan.
Also, please note that if your house remains vacant, then you will still need to pay tax on a notional rent income.
5: You have rented your own house and currently residing in a rented house
You took a home loan and your house is now ready for occupation. You have rented the same out while you reside in a rented house. The Income tax act allows you to claim both HRA and home loan benefits. However, in such a case, since you are the recipient of rent because you have let out your own house, that income is taxable at your hands.
The Income Tax Act treats HRA and home loan deductions under separate sections independently. The two are not interconnected to each other. HRA is dealt with in section 10(13A) Rule 2A while home loans are entitled for tax benefits under section 80C (tax benefit on principal repayment) and Section 24 (tax benefit on interest payment) of the Income Tax Act. Hence, figure out where you stand to avail both tax benefits accordingly.