It is well recognised that unless the women in our country are empowered in the true sense, including financially, the India growth story would be lop-sided. Though the percentage of women joining the workforce has increased in the past few decades, it only represents a small percentage of the country’s overall women population.
Under the existing tax law, there are very few concessions provided to women. A few additional steps, if taken on policy support would go a long way in accomplishing the desired outcome vis-à-vis changing the socio-economic imbalance that exists in our society today. In this context, the following points merit attention:
Girl child education
In spite of the encouraging schemes launched by the government and various development sector organisations, education for the girl child still continues to be a distant dream. Two steps in this direction could help fill the gap albeit to some extent. First, a special education deduction could be allowed say up to Rs 2,000 per month for the education of any girl child in a family with an annual income of less than Rs 5 lakh per annum. Second, a 100 per cent tax deduction could be allowed u/s 80G, against the current 50 per cent, for donations made to charitable organisations engaged in promoting girl child education, especially in the rural areas.
Deduction in Housing loans
At present, a housing loan deduction could be claimed for interest paid on housing loans of up to Rs 1.5 lakh for a self-occupied house property and up to Rs 1 lakh for repayment of the principal amount of housing loan u/s 80C of the Income-tax Act. There are a negligible proportion of women who have a house property in their name. Further, in many cases, after the demise of the husband there are a lot of issues pertaining to the legal title/ownership.
To encourage households to buy a house in the name of the women members or at least in the joint name, an enhanced deduction of say Rs 3 lakh should be allowed for interest paid on housing loans. To avoid any misuse of this beneficial provision, this deduction may be restricted to only one house.