The year 2013 was eventful in many ways. There was drama in politics, economy and what not. Let us focus on the most important personal finance news and events which occurred in 2013.
Sensex at all time high
Sensex reached its all time high level of 21,300 points after BJP swept the elections in three states and gained a significant number of seats in Delhi elections. It was the first time it crossed the level of 21,000 after 2008.
Rupee reached its all time low
INR slumped to its all time low level of close to 69 versus Dollar. Falling rupee meant Indians had to pay more for all things imported such as fuel and gold. Though Govt. and RBI tried hard to not let INR fall to this level, they could not stop the inevitable.
This came as a shock not just to tons of employees but also the PF managing authority EPFO. Close to 2.5 crore PF accounts were reported to have negative balance. It is believed that fraudsters have used fake bank accounts to withdraw money out of some of these accounts. Most of the accounts reported under this fraud were the ones which were idle for some time i.e. no contributions were being made to them.
Incentive for first time home loan takers
An incentive was announced in budget 2013 for first time home buyers who opt for a home loan. An additional deduction will be available for the said category of people who opt for lending in between 01/04/2013 and 31/03/2014.
Tax credit of Rs.2000 for tax payers
A tax credit of Rs. 2,000 was announced for all tax payers who had income level of up to Rs. 5 lakh p.a. This proposal would eventually increase the minimum tax slab from Rs. 2 lakh to 2.2 lakh. However, it is to be seen if this is only for this financial year or would be continued in the next year as well.
Landlord pan mandatory for rent over 1 lakh per annum
Every tax payer who claims HRA and pays a rent of more than Rs. 1 lakh p.a has to compulsorily declare the landlord PAN number to his employer. This is a major setback to quite a lot of people since landlords do not usually agree to provide their PAN numbers.
Interest Rates Cut on Post Office Small Saving Schemes
Post office small saving schemes would now fetch lesser returns compared to the previous year. PPF will now fetch 8.7%, NSC 8.5%-8.8% and few other schemes were also reduced by 0.1%.
Inflation bonds to be launched
Inflation bonds were proposed as a part of government’s battle against inflation. The bonds will be linked to the inflation index and thus will fetch greater returns as per the rise in inflation.
EPF online transfer and withdrawal facility
EPFO announced the launch of online facility through which users can opt for EPF transfer or withdrawal online. EPF transfer/withdrawal should now take less than 30 days once it is applied online. EPFO has also asked its office to resolve all the grievances within a specified time frame.
Curbs on import of gold
Govt. imposed restrictions on import of Gold into the country to put a check on rising inflation and falling rupee. RBI believes that Indians need to start reducing their love for the yellow metal in order to improve the current account deficit (excess imports over exports).
No more service tax on maintenance and repairs for flat buyers
It was welcome news for buyers of apartments who were beaten on account of multiple taxes and registration costs of flats. The service tax which they used to pay on the one time maintenance fees such as common areas, parking, etc and other repairs has been scrapped.
BJP looking at abolition of income, sales and excise tax
BJP announced that it was looking at totally eliminating the concept of income tax, sales tax and excise tax once it comes to power after the general elections in 2014. It may be a political trick but if it does happen, it will bring a smile onto the faces of lakhs of tax payers in the country.
Tax break for senior citizens on house property income
Senior citizens would not have to pay any tax on the income generated from the reverse mortgage scheme. This would encourage a lot more senior citizens to opt for this scheme. The eligible amount would also increase 3 fold with insurance companies also entering the service providers list.
Gold prices set to fall for first time in 13 years
Gold prices are set for an annual fall for the first time after 13 years of history of the shiny metal. At the same time, investors started preferring equities. It signals a gradual shift in the investors’ stance to opt for high risk instruments instead of what they believed was a safe haven – Gold.
These were the most important events of the year 2013. Hope the next year would bring in better news for you and keep you financially healthy. InvestmentYogi wishes all its readers a very happy new year.