Steps to Computation of TOTAL INCOME

Income-tax is levied on an assessee’s total income. Such total income has to be

computed as per the provisions contained in the Income-tax Act, 1961. Let us go step by

step to understand the procedure of computation of total income for the purpose of levy of

income-tax –

Step 1 – Determination of residential status

The residential status of a person has to be determined to ascertain which income is to be

included in computing the total income.

The residential statuses as per the Income-tax Act are shown below –

In the case of an individual, the duration for which he is present in India determines his

residential status. Based on the time spent by him, he may be (a) resident and ordinarily

resident, (b) resident but not ordinarily resident, or (c) non-resident.

The residential status of a person determines the taxability of the income. For e.g.,

income earned outside India will not be taxable in the hands of a non-resident but will be

taxable in case of a resident and ordinarily resident.



Step 2 – Classification of income under different heads

The Act prescribes five heads of income. These are shown below –





These heads of income exhaust all possible types of income that can accrue to or be

received by the tax payer. Salary, pension earned is taxable under the head “Salaries”.

Rental income is taxable under the head “Income from house property”. Income derived

from carrying on any business or profession is taxable under the head “Profits and gains

from business or profession”. Profit from sale of a capital asset (like land) is taxable

under the head “Capital Gains”. The fifth head of income is the residuary head under

which income taxable under the Act, but not falling under the first four heads, will be

taxed. The tax payer has to classify the income earned under the relevant head of


Step 3 - Exclusion of income not chargeable to tax

There are certain income which are wholly exempt from income-tax e.g. Agricultural

income. These income have to be excluded and will not form part of Gross Total Income.

Also, some incomes are partially exempt from income-tax e.g. House Rent Allowance,

Education Allowance. These incomes are excluded only to the extent of the limits

specified in the Act. The balance income over and above the prescribed exemption limits

would enter computation of total income and have to be classified under the relevant head

of income.

Step 4 - Computation of income under each head

Income is to be computed in accordance with the provisions governing a particular head

of income. Under each head of income, there is a charging section which defines the

scope of income chargeable under that head. There are deductions and allowances

prescribed under each head of income. For example, while calculating income from

house property, municipal taxes and interest on loan are allowed as deduction. Similarly,

deductions and allowances are prescribed under other heads of income. These


Basic Concepts

deductions etc. have to be considered before arriving at the net income chargeable under

each head

Step 5 – Clubbing of income of spouse, minor child etc.

In case of individuals, income-tax is levied on a slab system on the total income. The tax

system is progressive i.e. as the income increases, the applicable rate of tax increases.

Some taxpayers in the higher income bracket have a tendency to divert some portion of

their income to their spouse, minor child etc. to minimize their tax burden. In order to

prevent such tax avoidance, clubbing provisions have been incorporated in the Act, under

which income arising to certain persons (like spouse, minor child etc.) have to be included

in the income of the person who has diverted his income for the purpose of computing tax


Step 6 – Set-off or carry forward and set-off of losses

An assessee may have different sources of income under the same head of income. He

might have profit from one source and loss from the other. For instance, an assessee

may have profit from his textile business and loss from his printing business. This loss

can be set-off against the profits of textile business to arrive at the net income chargeable

under the head “Profits and gains of business or profession”.

Similarly, an assessee can have loss under one head of income, say, Income from house

property and profits under another head of income, say, Profits and gains of business or

profession. There are provisions in the Income-tax Act for allowing inter-head adjustment

in certain cases. Further, losses which cannot be set-off in the current year due to

inadequacy of eligible profits can be carried forward for set-off in the subsequent years as

per the provisions contained in the Act.

Step 7 – Computation of Gross Total Income.

The final figures of income or loss under each head of income, after allowing the

deductions, allowances and other adjustments, are then aggregated, after giving effect to

the provisions for clubbing of income and set-off and carry forward of losses, to arrive at

the gross total income.

Step 8 – Deductions from Gross Total Income

There are deductions prescribed from Gross Total Income. These deductions are of three

types –

Step 9 – Total income

The income arrived at, after claiming the above deductions from the Gross Total Income is

known as the Total Income. It is also called the Taxable Income. It should be rounded off

to the nearest Rs.10.


Basic Concepts

The process of computation of total income is shown hereunder –

Step 10 – Application of the rates of tax on the total income

The rates of tax for the different classes of assesses are prescribed by the Annual

Finance Act.



For individuals, HUFs etc., there is a slab rate and basic exemption limit. At present, the

basic exemption limit is Rs.1,00,000 for individuals. This means that no tax is payable by

individuals with total income of up to Rs.1,00,000. Those individuals whose total income

is more than Rs.1,00,000 but less than Rs.1,50,000 have to pay tax on their total income

in excess of Rs.1,00,000 @ 10% and so on. The highest rate is 30%, which is attracted in

respect of income in excess of Rs.2,50,000.

For firms and companies, a flat rate of tax is prescribed. At present, the rate is 30% on

the whole of their total income.

The tax rates have to be applied on the total income to arrive at the income-tax liability.

Step 11 – Surcharge

Surcharge is an additional tax payable over and above the income-tax. Surcharge is

levied as a percentage of income-tax. At present, the rate of surcharge for firms and

domestic companies is 10% and for foreign companies is 2.5%. For individuals, surcharge

would be levied @10% only if their total income exceeds Rs.10 lakhs.

Step 12 – Education cess

The income-tax, as increased by the surcharge, is to be further increased by an additional

surcharge called education cess@2%. The Education cess on income-tax is for the

purpose of providing universalised quality basic education. This is payable by all assesses

who are liable to pay income-tax irrespective of their level of total income.

Step 13 - Advance tax and tax deducted at source

Although the tax liability of an assessee is determined only at the end of the year, tax is

required to be paid in advance in certain installments on the basis of estimated income.

In certain cases, tax is required to be deducted at source from the income by the payer at

the rates prescribed in the Act. Such deduction should be made either at the time of

accrual or at the time of payment, as prescribed by the Act. For example, in the case of

salary income, the obligation of the employer to deduct tax at source arises only at the

time of payment of salary to the employees. Such tax deducted at source has to be

remitted to the credit of the Central Government through any branch of the RBI, SBI or

any authorized bank. If any tax is still due on the basis of return of income, after

adjusting advance tax and tax deducted at source, the assessee has to pay such tax

(called self-assessment tax) at the time of filing of the return


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CA Guru M  
on 07 November 2007
Published in Income Tax
Views : 44529
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