Categories: Finance

Unspent Per Diem is Taxable In India if brought back as cash

What is the meaning of per diem or daily allowance?

Daily allowance or per diem is an amount which is ONLY meant to cover your daily needs of housing, travel and food. Since it is an allowance, it is NOT taxable in the country you are travelling to for short term business assignment.

When you travel abroad for long term assignments (generally greater than 3 months), your company actually deputes you or transfers you to their subsidiary or sister company or parent company as the case may be in that country. In this case, they pay you monthly salary abroad and stop paying you your Indian salary. This salary is then taxable in the respective country as per their income tax laws.

For example,
If you travel to USA for 12 months, then you may receive a yearly package of around $ 60,000 and monthly salary of $5,000. But what your take home salary will be calculated after deducting tax from $5,000.

On the other hand, you might receive $100 per day as a lump sum amount when you travel to USA. When you travel on short term assignments, your company keeps paying you your Indian salary in India and pays the daily allowances (called per diem) abroad in the native currency i.e. USD in our example.
You would receive full $3,000 (30 days * $100) without any income tax deduction.

Unspent per diem is taxable in home country i.e. India?

It is neither taxable in Indian nor abroad if it is fully spent for the purpose it has been given to you. But do remember that any unspent amount, if brought back in your home country makes it eligible for income taxes in your home country!

As per income tax rules, the amount you brought back in India should be considered as your income and added to your Indian income for calculating income tax. if you do NOT do this, it is considered as BLACK money or undeclared income.

Example: Lets assume that you received $100 per day in USA and you saved $40 per day by staying there for 30 days. When you returned back to India, you had cash worth $1200, rest $1600 was spent on your daily needs. Then this amount of $1200 would be taxable in India as per your income tax slab.

Un-spent per-diem allowance is taxable in India

Please note that your company would normally NOT care about what you did with your daily allowance. They assume that you would have spent the full amount while your were abroad. It is your responsibility to declare the unspent amount (if any) in your Income tax return when you return back to India.

Also, note that while you were abroad and were receiving salary in India, your Indian salary would be taxable as per Indian income tax rules and your company would deduct the TDS as it used to do it when you were in India.

Is monthly salary received abroad taxable in home country i.e. India?

If you received monthly salary abroad, it is taxable as per that country’s income tax laws. So, if you are in USA, you will pay income in USA and not India.

But in case, due to some trivial situation, you have been charged taxes both in India and USA the double taxation treaty may help you. India has a double taxation treaty with USA and some other countries to make sure that you do NOT pay tax twice on the same income.

So, you can get the tax return if you paid taxes on certain income in both USA and India.

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  • Dear Sir,

    Thank you so much for the valuable article.

    Could you please explain how do we mention unspent per diem allowance in your ITR?


  • Under what section of the Income tax does it specify that unspent foreign daily allowances are taxable?

    • I am neither the right person to talk about the legal sections nor i have the expertise in that area.
      But the allowances that were not subjected to tax abroad are certainly taxable as an income in India if you did not spend them for the purpose they were given to you.

  • check this link, search for "per-diem",
    Per - diem allowanceQuestion 79 speaks about FBT in respect of per-diem allowances. The answer to this question would be found very interesting to salaried employees. Question 79 states that on some occasions, employers prefer to give a per-diem allowance for meeting the expenditure on lodging and boarding rather than making payments on actual basis. The per-diem allowance is exempt from tax under section 10(14). Would this be subject to FBT ? In reply to this question the Central Board of Direct Taxes states that since the per-diem allowance is paid for the purposes of use of hotel, boarding and lodging facilities, it would fall within the scope of clause (G) of sub-section (2) of section 115WB. However, the employee will not be liable to pay income-tax on any surplus accruing to him from such allowance. The best part of this answer is that the surplus from such allowance, very clearly states Central Board of Direct Taxes circular, would not be liable to tax in the hands of the employees. The question which remains to be answered is whether the Government would extend the same relaxation to other allowances as per rule 2BB(1) ?

    • The lnformation that you have gathered is correct. But as per my knowledge, the excess amount that you bring back to India is subject to taxation.

  • That was very useful information shared..I was confused about Per diem calculations & how it is taxable..
    Thank you for sharing the valuable information

      • Hi in my case my company is asking for all the bills to calculate what is saved money

        Wanted to know if I have spent money to buy mobile, laptop and camera, can I exempt that money and arrive remaining balance as net taxable per diem ?

        • Hi Bhavin,

          Your company is only interested in the bills for the amount that you spent for work purpose i.e. whatever was required and is allowed as expenditure by your company for business work.

          They would not recognize the bills for your personal expenses (your laptop, mobile and camera) have been purchased for personal use and not company work. Right?

          So, it is your personal expense and will be counted as your saved money.

          • Hey thanks for immediate reply
            One more thing, if we are talking about bills then I should be able to submit bills for things which I have brought in India to be used in USA, grocery, jacket, medicine etc which was brought and will be used only in USA ......

          • Hi Bhavin,
            It depends on your company policy on what all expenses they would accept. Normally, these kind of lodging and boarding expenses, medical expenses, clothing and miscellaneous expenses are allowed to a certain extent.
            Talk to your company's HR about their policy.

    • Hi XYZ,
      Thanks for sharing the KPMG article. I have gone through it and it certainly meaningful information.

      As per my opinion (after reading the KPMG article):

      1. The income tax department may or may not make an exclusive inquiry about what all LIVING allowances or per diem allowances that you received abroad.

      2. Normally, when you travel abroad (like USA) on deputation specifically, the allowances that you are paid are taxable here in USA. You company would deduct the tax and then pay your the amount. This case is mostly applicable if you are here on a work visa like L1 or H1 irrespective of the length of stay. So, in way that income/amount has already been taxed once and if we consider the tax treaty between India and USA, you dont need to pay it again in India.

      2A. if you travel abroad(like USA) on a business visa - which is NOT called a deputation. It is a business trip and normally spans about a maximum of 3 months. You are paid per diem allowance or kind of living allowance. Here your company does not pay any tax on this amount to US government and the above article is specifically about that portion. I feel that if you save that amount and take it back to India, it would form part of your income there and you are liable to pay tax.

      But, as mentioned in the KPMG article, the tax officer may or may not ask for the specific details with respect to how much was spent and how much was saved out of this allowance.
      In that case, yes...this income that you saved is completely an un-taxed amount (neither USA nor India).
      Ont he other hand, if he does ask for the details - You may have to pay the income tax on the amount you brought back to India since this amount was supposed to be spent on your living abroad.

      Let me know if you need more information.


  • Thanks. Specifically for point 2A, I feel that even savings will not be taxable. But here I am not getting proper answer from even CAs. The allowance should not be high and should be for sustenance. But if lets say I save 50% amount then is it taxable ? I thought the article suggests that it is not taxable even savings. If that is the case then total amount received (spent and unspent) can be shown in ITR-2 worksheet PARTB - TI - TTI - SAL, Allowance exempt under Section 10, Other allowances ?

    • Hi XYZ,

      I understand your point. But the basic principle is that the money you save should have been taxed somewhere (either in foreign country or in India) as you are trying to count it as your income. Remember, any income by whatever means you earn is taxable in your hands. There are different rules to treat some incomes but the final rule is to pay tax!

      The living allowance that is paid to you while you are travelling is just to meet your living there and is not meant to be counted as your income. Generally, it is believed that the amount is just sufficient enough to help you live there and you would not be able to save anything but spend all.

      If you do save a bit (about 10-20%) out of it, the tax officer would not be interested in looking at details though (this is what is mentioned in the KPMG article if I understand it correctly).

      So, as a thumb rule, I would suggest that if you save about 50% as you have mentioned - either don't declare it in the ITR or if you want to declare it - there are high chances that you will have to pay the income tax in India.

      I hope this answers your question.


  • Hi Anil,
    Very informative article. In the example you quoted lets say the 40 USD * 30 ~ 1200 USD is saved and before i return i just withdraw the amount and carry it back in the form of cash. Will this mean there is no unspent amount and i do not have any tax liability?

    • Hi San,

      No, It does not work that way.
      Whatever amount you save (cash or still in your ATM card or your credit card provided by company) is taxable.

      Normally, people take out the cash and bring it back with them.
      It is up-to you if you declare the cash in your ITR (Income Tax return) that you bring back. If you don't declare, it is an income that you have not paid tax on. If you declare, it is added to your income in India and taxed accordingly.

      If you have money left on your ATM card (foreign currency card provided by your company), you can bring it back without cashing it. You can get it cashed here in India with the bank. They won;t charge any tax when you en-cash it. But, again the above scenari o would be applicable with the cash.

      Let me know if you need more information.

      • Hello Anil,

        Thanks for this, but i am slightly confused maybe because of so many papers and examples in internet. I referred to the link in KPMG site provided by xyz and one in Deloitte ..

        What is the conclusion of these cases?

        I understand from what you have replied to xyz is if my company ( where i am deputed) paid the taxes for my per diem then i need not do anything and there is no tax implication. If they have not paid anything then i might need to pay . This is based on the country i am travelling to and the duration.

        Secondly from your response - "It is up-to you if you declare the cash in your ITR (Income Tax return) that you bring back. If you don't declare, it is an income that you have not paid tax" - my question is if i do not declare anything does it not mean that i have spent it all for my daily expenses.

        I understand there is an aspect of ethics which ideally should drive me to declare unspent amount but i am just trying to have clarity on the definition.
        Thanks again..great work helping us understand the complicated tax processes.!!

        • Hi San,
          The declaration/non-declaration of un-spent per diem only affects you and not the company. Company is doing everything legally and declaring the amount they have paid you as per-diem in their accounts. So, they are not affected by your decision to declare or not.

          Also, the amount that they pay you as per-diem is meant to take care of your daily expenses for living while on an assignment away from your base working location. This is considered an expense in company's account and hence they get tax deductions for it.

          Coming to the question of saving money out of this in your hand, the company does not really care about what you do with this money. You save or spend all, is all up-to you. The question of declaration only comes up if you save and want to use the money for some other purpose.

          Now, think this way: Whatever salary you get (earn) from your company is taxable in your hand even though company has accounted for it in their accounts.
          Thinking on same lines, the amount you save from the per-diem has to be an income for you (The cash or whatever form it is in). It has to be taxed somewhere before considering it as white money for you as an individual.

          Regarding the case study published by KPMG and Deloitte.:
          The case study is also correct in the sense that the tax officer might not really care about the small amount that you bring back. This is based on an assumption that you would probably just be able to save about 10-20% of total per-diem.

          But, it does not give you complete immunity. The tax officer would have all the rights to consider it as your income, if the amount you bring in as cash is a considerable amount and then deposit it in your bank account here in India.

          How will you prove that the cash was indeed saved abroad and then brought into India? They always try to find if the income passed through tax gates before reaching your hands. In this case, it will be difficult to prove since the per-diem was initially meant to be spent abroad on actuals (meaning real bills and was never meant to be saved).

          Also, if the amount is big, please do consider taking an expert opinion from a qualified CA.
          I have shared my experience above based on my earlier stint with per-diem and travelling abroad on short assignments.

          Does that answer your confusion?

  • Hi Anil,

    Thanks for sharing the above information, it is very informative. I have a query in regards to the per diem for long term. Is there any rule/law which says what is a long term period. I mean you mentioned long term assignments are generally more than 3 months. I am asking this because I am placed on a long term more (currently it is more than 2 years). My employer is paying me salary in Indian Rupees and Per Diem for the period of my stay here. I am impacted only when I go on annual leave. When I ask about the salary raise he says I am already paid high salary (showing the Indian salary plus per diem) but when it comes to my paid annual leave, he doesn't pay the per diem saying you are on leave so per diem is not applicable. My combined monthly salary (indian salary + per diem) is way less than what others get if they are paid only the international salary.

    I wanted to know if there is any Indian Law which states Per Diem is applicable only for short term travel less than 3 months. Also what should be the minimum Per Diem to be paid when a person is deputed to work with their client in Middle East.


    • Hi Raj,

      I am not an expert in the labor laws but the per diem cases are mostly governed by the country you are visiting.

      You are getting your Indian pay + per diem implies that your company has NOT transferred you to their Middle east branch. You are still the employee of their Indian branch. Per diem is paid when a company sends you to different location (can be within India also) than your base location.

      For example, in case of USA, they do not allow a person on business visa (getting per diem) for more than 3 months at a stretch. hence, a company who wants their employee to work in USA for more than 3 months, has to transfer it to their American branch. Once transferred to the specific country's branch, you are governed by their labor laws.

      That's the difference.

      Your company is probably still paying per-diem for saving money in middle east. Or they might not have their branch at all there. What is the case with you?

      Unfortunately, I am not aware of the per diem rates in Middle east.

  • Hi Anil,
    Can you tell me the tax implications in the below scenario :-
    I am on an L1 Visa for 3 years.
    I receive 65 USD as Daily site allowance + My indian salary (that goes into my Indian salary account).
    Now, Our company is a bit "cruel" and taxes all our "Site Allowances"... so whatever I earn is already been taxed in my TDS every month. So, I keep withdrawing the relevant amount from my travel card every month and keep it aside (for example a period of 30days, I use about 500 USD for food, etc. and keep the remaining 1400 USD as cash).
    I presume, this amount that I am taking out of my Travel card can be taken back, converted into INR and deposited into my savings bank. Please note that I have already paid tax for this money.
    Also please note that my project is going to last for almost 2 years here... (I have completed 4 months already here)

    • Hi Praveen,
      You don't need to pay taxes if it is already taxed once. You should get a tax deduction certificate for the amount as proof.

      A better idea would be to transfer the money from your current foreign country to india via banking channel. Depositing high amount of cash would be difficult to explain and raises suspicion of transferring un-taxed money in the eyes of income tax officer.

  • Hi Anil,

    Thanks for the useful article. I have in a different situation... I have been to onsite for a period of 53 days and was paid per diem. And my company asked me to declare the unspent perdiem, and I did so. But due to some co-ordination issue, they have not got my unspent perdiem declaration. So, the company considered my total perdiem as unspent and taxed the entire perdiem. After the assignment completion I changed the organization. Now I have to file my tax returns for AY 2015-16 and I would like to declare or adjust my unspent perdiem amounts as to get the exemption on the per diem amount I really spent while onsite. So, in which section of the ITR I can enter this and get the tax exemption.

    Thanks in advance for your help...

    Venkat. M

    • Hi Venkata,
      I think you should probably consult a chartered accountant to find the relevant section, given your scenario is pretty rare.

      Technically, your old company would have added this per diem amount to your taxable income and deducted the TDS. Now, it is difficult for you to claim in your ITR, that, a part of this income was actually NON-taxable, unless your company provides you the relevant and edited FORM 16.

      You may have to consult a CA as I am not aware of this situation. Sorry about it.


    According to this Article -

    Allowance for foreign services: Any Indian resident rendering service outside the country and receiving any allowances or perquisites outside the country remain tax free under Section 10(7) of the Income Tax Act. This section makes it possible for government servants to accumulate tax-free perquisites and allowances they might receive when working outside India.

    So, does that mean, pr diem will be exempt for taxes whether spent or unspent.

    • Hi Vipul, that's the case only if the payer is government of India I.e. a public sector company employee.
      For private company, it is taxable.

      The article you have referred does not clearly state this (govt company) condition but section 10(7) says it clearly.

  • Hi Anil,
    Can you tell me the tax implications in my below scenario :-
    I am working for Indian company and deputed to our Poland factory for two years 2015 and 2016.

    I stay in Poland alone and my wife and kids lives in India.

    Usually if i stay less than 183 days I don't need to pay any Tax but this year and next year I'll stay approx 240 days in poland and rest days in India.

    I am getting my Indian salary in India regularly and my company also deduct applicable tax each month from my salary.
    while in Poland I receive 160 PLN as Diem allowance.

    Now, this 160PLN *30=4800 PLN i get in cash from not through bank from our polish company. however I sign some voucher that i have received it. may be Polish company shows in their book about this expenditure.

    Now, whatever unspent money left with me, I convert it from PLN to EURO and then take to India in cash form and then convert there in Black to INR ( I don't deposit this money in any bank) and spend in India in cash for my other expenditures.
    my question is in my case do i need to pay tax in Poland on my DA allowance?
    until now I haven't paid any tax in Poland. this year i have completed so far 150 days till now.

    according to below link of KPMG per diem allowance for non resident is non taxable.

    Please advice in this matter.

    +48 601790701

    • Hi Sandeep,
      I am not aware of the Poland income tax laws but it seems right to keep that Diem allowance with you and you need not pay any tax in Poland.
      You can always keep the money with you and can claim to spend it some day while you are still there, with the argument that it is for your per diem allowance.

      I think you are good.

  • Hi Anil,
    A nice detailed discussion going on here. Thought I could chip in with my complicated matters to get some great suggestions & ideas from you :)
    So, I was in Australia for a period of around 150 days in Financial year 2014 -15 and drew salary in AUDs for 2 months ( deputation) during this stay, as for the rest of days, I was on business visa.
    Basically, 90 days on business visa, and 4 months on deputation (2 months in financial yr 2014/15 and 2 months in Financial yr 2015/16)
    I have salary bank account there in Aus and my company had been deducting tax under head "India Income Tax" from my salary.
    From whatever I have being researching on net, I cannot use the normal ITR 1 form, as the bank accounts would be considered foreign assets. Would you be able to advise on what form should I use and where I should declare the accounts. So far, I have deduced that I would be considered resident for Financial year 2014/15.

    Looking forward to your reply

    • Hi Sumedha,
      I am sorry as I do not have knowledge about the ITR form that you should use for this case. I would advise you to consult a tax expert.
      I will try to find information about it and share if I get any, from reliable sources.

  • Hi Anil,

    I have specific questions on 2 different stages of my status in FY 2014-15. And also some question for FY 2015-16 as often the income spills over to the next financial year.

    Stage 1. I was in UK on Tier 2 Short Term Work Permit starting 25th January 2014 until 4th May 2014. During this tenure of exactly 100 days I was getting my Indian Salary as well as Perdiem allowance in GBP. In 100 days I could save approximately 50% of my perdiem which I transferred by way of Western Union Money transfer into my India saving account. All these transfers were done after 1st April 2014. During this time my Indian salary continued and TDS was deducted on it as per the scale.

    a. Do I need to include whatever savings I transferred into my Indian account from UK in my Income for FY 14-15?

    b. I am specifically not aware of whether my organization had paid any taxes on perdiem paid to me either to the UK or Indian Government though there have been some verbal communication which suggested that they had. Do I need to dig in and find out?

    c. Does the fact that my organization had paid taxes on my perdiem to UK or Indian Government relieve me of the Indian tax burden on my perdiem savings and I don't have to declare it in my ITR?

    Stage 2. I again travelled to UK in the last week of February 2015 and this time on Tier 2 Long Term Work Permit. This time round my Indian Salary had stopped and I am getting only UK Salary.I will be returning back to India in the month of August 2015. Although regular tax is being deducted from my UK salary, no tax was deducted from my salary for the last week of February and the month of March 2015 as it falled within tax free bracket of UK. Starting April regular tax is getting deducted from my salary.There has been no transfers of unspent amount to India either cash or online untill the end of FY 2014-15.

    a. Do I need to pay any tax to Indian Government on my Salary earned in UK for last week of February and full month of March 2015 for the FY 2014-15 which has already gone through the tax gates of UK Governemnet, although no tax deducted owing to low income earned in FY 2014-15 in UK?

    b. I will be returning to India in August 2015 and therefore my stay in UK for FY 2015-16 would be less then 182 days. I will have savings converted and transferred to my Indian accounts in the month of August. Will all of these savings be considered as income for the FY 2015-16 and I have to pay tax to Indian Government considering the fact that I have already paid tax on this income to the UK government?

    c. Also, the tax deducted by UK Government is basis that I will staying in UK for full financial year of 15-16. However, I will return by August and would therefore be entitled to tax refund from UK Government.I would eventually be converting and transferring this amount to INR. Do I need to pay tax on this amount also?

    Paying the tax is not a problem but all I am trying to do is to adhere to regulation of both the countries and have legitimate money in my kitty. So please excuse me if it is too complicated :-)

    Looking forward for a response from you.

    • Hi Peeyush,
      This is what I think to the best of my knowledge:

      Stage 1:
      a. Yes, you should include it in your income for FY 2014-15. It can be tracked via banking account.
      b. If your company has paid any taxes for per diem, they should be able to provide you with the paper document. If you can produce that paper document to prove that you have already paid or you do not owe anything on the amount to Indian taxes, you are good.
      c. The tax document is important to prove the money's source in your account. Just like you get Form 16 for all the income and tax paid by company on your behalf, the tax paid doc for per diem is also needed.

      Stage 2:
      a. Tax-ability of income in Feb-march in India will depend on your Tax residency status in the FY 2014-15. Since, you had spent more than 182 days in India, this income has to be reported in India and you have to pay taxes. It does not matter if it was not taxed in UK due to low income.

      If you are tax resident in India for a given year, all your global income has to be shown and taxed in India.

      b. Yes, you will have to declare the income in India for FY 2015-16. The tax that you have already paid in UK can be shown too and you can get double taxation treaty benefit. I am not sure if UK has that treaty. USA certainly has it.

      c. You will have to reconcile everything - UK taxes paid and refunds, Indian taxes paid and due at the time of filing Indian income tax return. UK tax refunds does not mean income tax free money. It has to be counted as income and then taxed as per Indian tax laws.

      I would suggest you to contact a CA to prepare your tax returns due to the complexity.

      • Thanks Anil, for your response. Just a last question. will opening up an NRE account and using it for Foreign money transfer help in any manner? Technically I can and I should have opened one until now but since I will be going back in August this year I am slightly reluctant to open one. If there is a tax benefit in using it or transferring money to a normal savings account is in some manner incorrect due to regulations, then it makes sense to open it up and use it for my UK tax refund and other refund transfers.

  • Hello Friends,

    I am CA Hardik Raicha.

    If you have any doubts or queries related to taxability of salary income in abroad or perdiem allowance, you can contact in on Mobile number 09699363738.

  • Hey, Great discussion and thanks for the info ... My Query if you can help ....I was on 5 month Short term assignment outside India. My Company

    1. Paid me a Monthly Short Term International Allowance and deducted TDS on the same and paid the remaining allowance post tax in INR in my Indian salary account

    2. Although the amount was mentioned as Short Term International Allowance in my pay slip , in Form 16 it is added to my salary. Since I have already paid tax on the allowance (TDS) can I try getting a refund of the TDS deducted on the allowance

    3. What is the implication, if I file for a refund and taxman holds it as not allowed. Will I be fined, even though I have paid tax upfront already

    4. I do not have documents to show where I have spent the money, only have slips showing conversions of my INR allowance to Dollars to be eventually withdrawn and spent there. I have no savings from the allowance

    Please help urgently since I have already filed my return and am looking to modify it , if you think this is not legal/ has a significant risk of being fined if interpreted differently by the taxman

    PS: Would post my experience either ways, once I am done with my assessment

    • Hi Pankaj,
      Here are the answers to the best of my knowledge:
      1. If they paid you allowance in INR and that too in India, it is taxable.
      2. I have a strong feeling that your company treated the allowance as salary expense (from the point of view of company) and not as per diem allowance. If they had counted it as per diem allowance, it would not be taxable in your hands. But, looks like this is not the case.
      3. There is no fine as you do not have any pending tax to be paid.
      4. If your company has not treated it as per diem in their accounts, you have no option to treat it as non-taxable for you. It was paid as salary to you in India and hence you are liable to pay taxes on it.

      Let me know if you need more information.

  • Hi Everyone,

    Its a great debate....
    But there are few more points to it... viz:

    Is there any classification on where to spent per-diem and where not to spent?
    Like I spent per-diem to buy a laptop (this amount is taxable?) and if I spent amount in food (non-taxable).
    If above is wrong can you share any link to govt website pointing it...
    Also do we need to provide proofs? like cases where we are using laundry in USA, I usually put 4-5 $ and dont get receipt so any suggestions on how to handle such cases??


    • Hi Ankur,
      1. The basic point to understand is that the per diem is paid to an employee to help with his day to day expenses while he/she is on BUSINESS tour. When your company provides you a lump sum amount per day, they do not expect you to submit specific bills to be submitted. You are free to spend that money whatever way you feel.
      This is pretty common in IT companies who send their employees to US for shot term business tours. They are paid a fixed per day allowance and they can either save, buy laptop or pay rent or eat food or do whatever they want to do with that money.

      But, if you save something out of it and take it back to India, it is considered your income and is taxable, if you declare it in your IT return.

      2. The question of legitimate expense (allowed or not allowed) arises only when your company reimburses you for the per day expenses. In this case, the expenses would be governed by your company's policy on what they allow and what not.

      This is the case when company issues a company owned, company managed credit card (example AMEX card). In this case, they just reimburse for the expenses that they allow as business expenses. In this case, there is no tax liability for employee.

      Let me know if you need more information.

  • Hi anil,
    If someone's salary 2.4lakhs INR, and his/her unspent per diem 70K INR, does he/she need to pay income tax?? OR he would pay separately unspent perdiem ??

  • Hi,

    I was on short term international assignment to the Netherlands fro 3 months on a (work permit). I tried to find what all expenses in Europe can be allowed for tax exemption in India. I have made couple of visits to other European countries can I claim the travel expenses for tax exemption. In the income tax website there are no clear guidelines this, could you please share your opinion.

    • Hi Venkat,
      If you spent all the money that you received from your employer specifically for international assignment, you do not need to do anything.
      If you did save some money out of it, it is taxable as your income in India.

      Travel expenses (if any) to other European countries can be claimed only with your employer, not with income tax authorities.

      • Hi Anil,

        I have similar case as ventak. But i saved some money and transfered money to my parents savings account is it taxable for them. My parents recieved notice from ITD.
        what should i do?

        • Depositing the money in parent's account does not make it tax free.
          Your parents can add that income to their ITR and pay tax on it.

  • Hi,

    I want to know about this taxation on per diem allowance received on on-site.

    I am getting salary in Indian rupees, and salary contain some component as allowance ( for that, if we provide bills, then that is tax free, means, i have spent allowance). If you don't provide bills of complete allowance amount, then remaining amount will be taxable.

    Then, i went to onsite location, when i was getting per diem, + Monthly Indian salary. Now, i have to provide the bills for all expenses, i did in on site location for amount got as per Diem (this is clear).

    Finance department in my company told me that, my indian salary will be completely taxable, even the amount, which was given as allowance earlier. But, my family is still in india, they are using my monthly Indian Salary. So, i could provide the bills on the allowance got on Indian Salary.

    My Question is: If you are on abroad location, then your complete Indian Salary is taxable? or components like per Diem could be excluded?

    • The Indian portion of per diem's taxability depends on what kind of expenses it is meant for.
      i am sure if you can provide the bills, then it should be non-taxable.

      • It is called as "Reimbursement Component" in the CTC. I usually provide bills for amount under this component as asked by department. But, When i am onsite , they are saying this component will be taxable, as you will be onsite. But, my family would be using mobile, News papers , refreshments & driver etc.

        • That's fine. But, what all kind of bills do they allow as 'Reimbursement'?
          For example, reimbursement could be of mobile bills, internet bills, car fuel etc.

          Some of them might be non-taxable even if you travel outside India and some may not. It highly depends on company policy on what all they would allow.

          Normally, they can allow all of them but they stay away from doing so, due to the fear of income tax department creating issues for them, at the time of their audit.

          • These are the components, which comes under Reimbursement component:
            Mobile & Data Card, News Paper and Magazine, Books and Periodicals, Refreshment Allowance, Driver Allowance,Vehicle Running and Maintenance

  • Hi,
    I got perDime allowance in my one month business trip outside India, but have submitted xerox copy of the bills, and later i forgot to submit the original bills to the company payroll department and later they have deducted all the tax to my perdiem allowance. i have all the original bills intact but company refused to change anything regarding the Tax as they are saying the cutoff time is over to submit the original bills. please let me know if it can be reverted at the time of ITR ? my form 16 shows perDiem amount.


  • I have stayed in India till October 7 which makes in 182+ days. I moved to the US for a long term project and my Indian salary stopped. Now I am under the payroll of the parent US company and taxes are withheld by my employer. Do I need to pay tax in India against my US salary?

    • No, You do not need to pay tax in India for your US salary.
      When you file your Indian IT return, you can just declare your Indian income till 7 Oct in that year's return and that should be fine.
      You will receive the form 16 (in India) for your income till October 7 too by your Indian company.

  • I have couple of questions. I am in Europe right now with per diem model. Since my Indian salary is active I am paying tax Indian Govt as per standard taxation policy. Now if I will transfer 500 euro per month to India ( to my fathers account), will it be taxable? If yes how it will be calculated? My father is a retired person and his yearly income from MIS is around 1.5L. Please suggest.

    • If you are not paying income tax on the per diem (that you receive in Europe), which most probably is the case, then, yes. Any income that you save from per diem and bring back to India (by whatever mode - cash, bank transfer or transfer to relative account) is taxable.

      Your father will have to add it to his ITR and show it as an income.

      • Hi Anil,

        In relation to above question,should travelled person also show as income and pay tax. Or otherwise only his father can show as income and file IT returns.

        • I believe that the person traveled should show it as his income. The money you gave to your father can be treated as a gift.

  • Any idea what amount of EURO can be carried by an Indian officially travelling from any European country to India? ( After staying 6-8 months in Europe and paid in per diem model)

    • I think you are mixing 2 things here:
      1. Whatever amount of per diem you saved is taxable in India. Does not matter how you carry it back to home country i.e. via bank transfer or cash. You are liable to declare it on your IT return and pay income tax on it.
      2. The total amount of CASH that you can bring in with you legally is 45000 INR.

      They are not going to ask if this 45k INR (after conversion from Euro to INR) is per diem or whatever. Remember, this is the customs limit.

  • I have brought back allowance given to me in euro for period of two months.
    1. When declaring that as an income can I deduct personal expenses paid by credit card?
    2. TDS will not happen for this income. Should I declare it in next ITR and pay due tax at that time or should I pay tax in advance now apart from TDS for this income?

  • Hi,
    I got a job offer from a Dubai based company, where I will be travelling on employment pass and will be getting salary in their local account in AED. But my stay in this financial year in India will be more than 182 days as i will be travelling in October. Could you please confirm me that the salary earned in Dubai by rendering service there on employment visa is taxable in India.

    If yes, will my full salary will be taxable in India or I will get deductions for HRA and transport allowances as it's part of my salary.


    • Hi Nabin,
      If you stay outside India for more than 182 days, you become NRI.
      The tax status would become NRI too while filing ITR.

      In any case, if yo uhad income in India in current financial year, youwould be required to file ITR for the income earned in India.

      • Hi Anil,

        My stay outside India will be less than 182 days as I will be travelling in October.Could you please confirm me that the salary earned in Dubai by rendering service there on employment visa is taxable in India.

        If yes, will my full salary will be taxable in India or I will get deductions for HRA and transport allowances as it's part of my salary.

  • Hi,

    I worked in India till Sept end then moved to US and now i am on US payroll.
    Please guide me on tax, where shell i show Oct - Dec income, in US or India?

    Thanks & Regards

    • You will have to file your US income tax return (Nov and Dec) in US. You will receive W2 for this income from your company in Jab-feb 2017. Use it to file form 1040 (US IT return).
      For the earlier income in India, you will receive form 16 from your company in India and you will have to file ITR in India, around July 2017.

      I think your confusion is about the US income is taxed in India or vice versa. It actually depends on the resident status. Since, you will not be a resident of US (search for substantial presence test - simply means stayed here for 6 months or more), than you need to file taxes on all your worldwide income. Since, you will not pass this criteria, you are not supposed to count that Indian income for this year.

      From next year on wards, you will need to add your Indian income (if any) to US income. At that time, you will need help of this article:

  • I am getting per-diem in USA. My company says that as long as I give bill, eg lunch bill per diem won't be tax. I could not find what type of bills I can give. Company says only food is tax expemt, and if I go for a movie for example, it is not. What do tax laws say?

  • Hi,
    Below discussions are very much clear and helpful, however I am in a bit different situation.
    I was on a business trip to Europe in April 2016, and received a lump sum per Diem of 45 Euros. My company provides all travel expenses (per diem + reimbursement) via NEFT transfer to my salary bank account, but does not show any of it in my payslip.
    After the trip, I was able to save around 40 thousand rupees in my account and upon my return I had withdrawn this money for regular daily expenses.
    My doubts are:
    1. Do I need to declare this amount for tax calculation considering:
    a. I have already spent the leftover amount in India.
    b. And, my payslip or Form-16 received from employer do not show any of this amount. (but this amount was received in my salary bank account)

    2. If yes, how can I declare this amount and do I need to provide any proof to ITD of India.

    Thanks in advance! :)

    • Hi Pankaj,
      1. There must be some record maintained by your company to prove that this amount was indeed a per diem. If you can prove it, ITD will not have any issue.
      2. You should declare it on your income tax return. You should take CA's help or ask your company HR to help you with declaring this amount for IT purpose.

  • Hi all,
    I have a small confusion with respect to the "Per-Diem" being taxable or not. Even though it is very similar question to few others.
    If I will deposit some money into my parent's account, it will make it their taxable income, is understood, but do I have to declare it into my ITR as well and pay tax in addition to what they are paying?


    • Each income gets taxed only once. So, if you deposit the cash in your parents account and they show it in their income tax return, then you do not need to show it on your returns.

      • Thanks a lot for the quick reply. But what if it is not making it their income taxable? Say it is their only income and I am depositing about 2,00,000.
        And if still they will file ITR, what will be the type of the income.
        Sorry for repetitive edits.

  • Hi,
    I had travelled to US and we were provided a per diem amount. Our finance guys are considering entire amount as taxable indian income and are not listening to any of our arguments. I have two doubts,
    1. Is there an official government document online that I can take it to them for making my argument stronger
    2. If company still does that, is there a way I can claim the money back while filing IT return ?

    • 1. The per diem that they are paying you is a business expense for your company. They are not required to pay any tax on it. If they are deducting income tax from your pocket, then you have to submit the bills to claim tax free per diem.
      2. You can't claim it back from in your IT return unless your company shows it as a business expense.
      They are most probably showing it as your income and hence charging income tax.

  • Question:

    I will be travelling and will be inside US territory from 5/14 til 6/10. Total of 28 days in the US (excluding the travel dates)

    I will be paid perdiem of $55. Total of $55 * 28 = $1,540

    1) Assuming $20 per day of food, say in an all for 28 days, I spend $560. Assume I have all the receipts for food worth $560
    2) I spent $500 for personal expense like movies, clothes etc
    3) So that means I did not use $480
    4) Assume dollar rate is 65
    5) Assume India Tax is 30%

    What is that in the end I will get in India?

    My pointed question is (two calculations, which one would be correct)

    A] Will I get
    $1540 - ($560 + $500) = $480 * 65 = Rs 31,200 only (and with 30% tax this would be Rs 21,840)


    B] Will I get
    $560 * 65 = 36400 (TaxFree) ----------(1)
    $500 * 65 = 32500 (with 30% tax) this would be 22,750 ----------(2)
    $480 * 65 = 31200 (with 30% tax) this would be 21840 -----------(3)
    Adding (1), (2) and (3) = 80,990

    What is that I will get in India?

    Also if they have a policy of $10 per day (from the per diem) that can go with no receipts (to take care of daily chores), what will be the calculations like ?


    • I do not know how your company handles per diem. Normally, the employer pays the full per diem in USD. In your case, it would be $55 per day. And you should get a total of (55*28) in USD.
      Now, whatever you save after your 28 day trip and bring to India, is taxable in India.
      It is not taxed straight at 30%. You would have to declare this amount. Lets say you saved $500. Then, you will declare 500 * 65 on your ITR and add it your total yearly income.
      The total tax would depend on the final tax slab that your total yearly income falls in.

      • So even if I spend $560 on food, I am going to get that back in INR. Is that correct statement

        • No, it is not.
          How is your company going to pay you is what matters here.
          1. If they pay you $55 per day in USD directly, they do not care for bills. It is up-to you to spend all or save all. Bring all to India and exchange them for INR. Either declare all or none in your INR. Legally, you should declare whatever you bring back to India.
          2. If they are going to re-imburse you based on your bills, in INR, then they would certainly make the rest (the amount without BUSINESS RELATED bills) as taxable for you. Non-business related bills are your personal expenses like clothing, movies, personal appliances etc.

          • Thanks, they will reimburse as per your option (2), So in summary looks like if I fall in 30% tax criteria in India, am surely to get minimum 70% of per diem alloted to me on a daily basis irrespective of where I spend or save.
            Rest 30% may vary depending on how many food bills I show to them

            Do you see this as a correct statement.?

  • If an employee is recovering its meal and accomodation charges while on a tour to a location through reimbursement by presenting its original opies of bills and other than this reimbursement, the employees are claiming per diem allowance on an extra on days basis. Is this a correct policy?

    The amount of per diem will be added back to the income calculation of employees for the purpose of deduction of tds , as the same will be treated as their income. Isn't it??

    • It depends on your company policy. What you consider as a business expense and what not.
      Your understanding is right as most companies add the per-diem that's not supported by bills to employee's income.

  • If an employee is recovering its meal and accomodation charges while on a tour to a location through reimbursement by presenting its original opies of bills and other than this reimbursement, the employees are claiming per diem allowance on an extra on days basis. Is this a correct policy?

    The amount of per diem will be added back to the income calculation of employees for the purpose of deduction of tds , as the same will be treated as their income. Isn't it??

  • Thanks Anil Gupta for your effort in explaining this to everyone.

    I have personally came across many IT people who are unaware about this fact when I inform them about it.

    My suggestion to my friends is always to withdraw such amount from their current account or better get it as an advances before they travel and it is transferred to their accounts. In this manner you can prove that no savings are made out per diem received.

    In case they do save either in bank accounts or fixed deposits, then such value should be disclosed as income in the ITR and same should be declared under head Salary Income as an allowance.

    Thanks & Regards

  • Hi Mr.Anil

    i had received per diem when i was on Europe trip..but i claimed 100% expenses with my company but still have around 1 lac in my savings account

    will that be taxable in india?

    • When you file ITR, you should declare this 1 Lac and pay the income tax.
      If you do not declare, and the Income tax officer audits your case (and bank accounts), they might ask for this 1 lakh's origin and explanation.
      If no audit happens, then you might just get away with it :)

  • Hi Anil,

    My company provides per diem in forex card which gets loaded at the end of a month for the next month's expenses.
    I have accumulated around a couple of thousand euros in the card. Also, recently I have been receiving the amount directly in the local bank here.
    My query is on the applicability of tax on the euros I have in my forex card. Is it like the unused past months' per-diem eligible for taxation?

      • Since, you are currently abroad with your per diem money, your employer is already complying to foreign law of land for taxation.
        But, as soon as you bring those 'saved' and un-spent Euros to India, they become taxable as per Indian law in your hands.

        This means that you should show them as 'Income' on your Indian income tax return and pay taxes.

  • Hi Anil,

    I have a simple question related to taxation on the money given as hardship allowance in my company after returning.
    My company has a weird policy. They pay us Indian monthly salary when we are in UK and take care of our basic needs like hotel, food and travel and on our return after 45 days, they give us minimal amount as hardship allowance and they tax it while paying us. but is this really acceptable as per indian Govt?
    when I asked them they said, "The Hardship Allowance is subject to taxes in India". Let me know is this taxable really?

  • Hi Anil,
    I had a foreign short term assignment to Hong Kong for 6 Months, the period was December 2015 to June 2016. I was paying salary in India account only which duly taxed as per by Indian Income Tax law. When I came back from the trip the left out amount of daily allowance was near about 30K HKD and I kept that amount in HKD currency only till few months back. I have filed my return for FY 2016-17 without showing this income due to my ignorance and the ITR computation was showing a refund due to the excess tds deducted from the salary income. The refund of FY 16-17 is also credited in my account few months ago. The left out HKD cash converted into INR during the financial year of 2017-18 through normal currency exchange in HDFC Bank account. My question is that whether I have to show the left out HKD as income in FY 16-17 ITR itself by doing a revised return or the same could considered in FY 2017-18 ITR only as the conversion accounted for in the bank account in current year only. Please advise

    • Since, you have already filed the 2016-17 ITR and got the refund, you will add complexity to your case by filing a revised return.
      Although, filing a revised return is the legal way due to the income you earned belong to that year.

      At this time, it is your choice about what you want to do.

  • Hi Anil,

    I was in travel to UK last year for 3 months. Company bared the food and accommodation. They gave 40$ for out of packet expenses. So for 3 months i got 3600$. where as, I have spent 1200$ for my personal expenses like site seeing,etc. where as my company has already deducted IT for 3600$ whole. Can I able to file the return for the for 1200$?

    • What do you mean by 'return' for $1200?
      Do you want REFUND for $1200 from income tax department?

      Is yes, then you cannot claim the $1200. Your company has already paid taxes on $3600 and should give you form 16 for the same.
      This was supposed to be added to your income and they probably have already done it.

      You can just use the form 16 to show the same income on your income tax return.

  • Hi Anil,

    I am on deputation to Russia for six months, but it comes to 150 days outside India. My salary is paid in Russian rubbles in citibank account here. My home entity does not pay any income for these period. In Russia the salary component is inclusive of equivalent salary amount in India + allowance + Per diem. Company pays 13% tax for the amount credited here in Russia. They have no where shown the separation and all the amount are paid in bank and not by cash. I have spent some money in Russia and Dubai. Do i need to pay tax for only the amount sent to India or for the whole amount credited here. How to calculate the amount of tax to be paid in India. During start of contract they have also got my Indian PAN number, will the income in Russia will replicate in form 26AS.

    • You will be considered an Indian resident for Filing Indian income tax since you will be spending 180+ days in India.
      Your company should issue you form 16 and use it to file Indian ITR.
      I am not sure if Indian and Russia have double taxation treaty or not. You can check with your company's finance department.

  • Hi Anil,

    Thanks for such a nice and clear article, it helped a lot. But my case is slightly different from this.

    My parent company transfered me to their partner company for 2 years as Onsite-Coordinator in Japan. But my indian salary and per-diem allowance is paid by Indian company in INR to my indian bank account only. They are considering the whole amount(salary+allowance) as my CTC and deducted the 30% TDS according to my salary slab. They are not ready to accept the food and other bills also. I feel like, we are being fooled by my company.

    What is your opinion on this?

    Sivalingam M

    • Well, you would have signed a deputation agreement before going to Japan. You probably would have signed on the agreement which had the details of how you would be paid for working in Japan.
      It depends on each company policy.

      What did they pay you in Japan for lodging? Was there anything paid in Japan for your expenses there? Was any income tax deducted as per Japanese laws?
      I can't really comment on what set up you had with your company but normally companies do pay some per diem to take care of daily expenses.

  • Hi Anil,

    Thanks for such a nice and clear article, it helped a lot. But my case is slightly different from this.

    My parent company transfered me to their partner company for 2 years as Onsite-Coordinator in Japan. But my indian salary and per-diem allowance is paid by Indian company in INR to my indian bank account only. They are considering the whole amount(salary+allowance) as my CTC and deducted the 30% TDS according to my salary slab. They are not ready to accept the food and other bills also. I feel like, we are being fooled by my company.

    What is your opinion on this?

    Sivalingam M

    • Well, you would have signed a deputation agreement before going to Japan. You probably would have signed on the agreement which had the details of how you would be paid for working in Japan.
      It depends on each company policy.

      What did they pay you in Japan for lodging? Was there anything paid in Japan for your expenses there? Was any income tax deducted as per Japanese laws?
      I can't really comment on what set up you had with your company but normally companies do pay some per diem to take care of daily expenses.

  • Hi Anil,
    I have been in Dubai for two months on a short term assignment. During the time I have received per diems.
    Do I need to submit the bills for the whole perdiem amount that I have spent there, so I can avoid taxation on the whole amount?

    Thanks in Advance

    • If you have to make it tax free, your employer has to take those bills and consider them as business expense.
      If your employer gives the money to you as your income, then you have to pay tax on it.

      Talk to your employer.

  • Sir

    Am abroad for training purpose from my company. As per agreement am claiming $30 per day as food allowance from company. So company is not deducting any tax for that at present.

    Am not spending that whole money here in abroad. So how I can declare the money as non-taxable that I spent here?
    *As here in abroad every restaurant don't provide bills for food.*
    So how I can declare the actual amount I spent here for tax exemption on that amount?

    Please help

  • Hi Mr. Anil,
    Its very much clear from artcile that any foreign allowance brought to India is taxable.
    But, can you please still tell me which are the methods by which we can save the tax in India?
    e.g. If somebody comes to India after foreign trip and he is carrying the Travel card (Multicurrency Card) in which there are 1000USD.
    But the person was there only for 3 to 4 months.
    Now, if he encashes this USD from the card owned bank into INR then, whether the money in INR will be taxable?
    If yes, is there any mechanicsm, we can save the tax on this money?
    Can you please help me to clarify my three doubts?

    • When you en-cash the travel card, there is no tax deducted by bank.
      It is up-to you to declare this cash as your income while filing ITR. If yo do not declare, you save full tax.
      If you declare, it is added to your income and taxed as per the relevant slab.

      Your choice. There is no other way i know that can make this saved money tax free.

      • Thanks again for giving crystal clear answers.
        One little doubt, I have spent the Indian currencies while abroad. i.e. I did some flight booking using Indian Credit Card. Thse flights were the abroad travelled flights. As I my multicurrency travel card did not get swiped may be due to some technical problem, I was forecd to use the Indian Credit Card. So, when I return to India, can I deduct this spent amount from the converted USD to INR amount? I mean when I come to India, I'll convert the money in the card in to INR from the Bank. Say I have 50000 INR. And while submitting ITR, I will deduct the amount spent amount on flight say INR 30000. Thus, in ITR, I can show the amount 50000-30000 = 20000. Thus, I will show the 20000 INR as my extra income. Is this correct?

        • Ya, you can do that.
          See, the whole thing revolves around declaring and not declaring it in your ITR.
          If you declare and if the amount is substantial enough to raise eye brows in IT department, then they might ask for proofs.

          For smaller amount (usually less than 10 lakhs), nobody even bothers!
          So, even if you do not declare and keep the money in cash in hand, you will be good.

          But, if you want to declare it the way you have explained, you can do it and keep the proofs like credit card statement, in case the IT officer brings your case to Audit.

  • Dear Mr. Anil,

    I am at onsite and have a specific query regarding double taxation. Is it possible to reach you through email. Please share your email ID. Else please let me know any other by which I can share my query.



      • Thanks for sharing your contact. I have sent the mail with subject "Regarding double taxation at onsite". Looking forward to your reply

  • Hello Anil Gupta,

    Am being paid Per Diems from last 7 months, by going through your blog, i came to know that the per diems are taxable in India. Though i have collected the bills, some bills have lost their print and seems to be almost blank.
    I wanted to know if the below purchases are considered for tax exemption.
    Dental Treatment(Tooth Correction / Tooth Braces)
    Garment Purchases
    Gold Purchases
    Electronic Items(Mobiles, Laptops,etc..) Purchases

    Please advice.

    • Per diems are taxable if you save them and bring them back to India.
      If your company has already paid you the per diem, then any expenses you make are okay.
      If your company has NOT already paid your per diem and is going to reimburse you based on the bills, then most probably your personal expenses will not be reimbursed. Only business related expenses are allowed. But your company policy may be different. Check with your HR.

      • Hello Anil Gupta,
        Thanks for your reply -
        In my case, company has already paid the per diems, but asking me to submit only Food,Laundry and telephone bills. Saying that other / Personal expenses are not to be submitted for getting tax exemption.

        • OK, so your company is basically going to calculate the tax after you submit the bills.
          Yep, personal expenses are not reimbursable.

  • Hello Anil Sir
    Need your help for the below matter.
    I am working as an IA consultant. I am based out of Mumbai office but working in Middle East at client location.

    **During AY 2018-19, I was out of India for more than 182 days and I am a Non-Resident as per Income Tax Act.**

    I received salary in India. And per diem Kuwait for my stay abroad.(The per diem has accrued to me as well as received outside India.)
    I remitted the unspent per diem every month in my NRE bank account.

    My query is that whether the unspent per diem which I have remitted to India, will it be treated as my income as per Sec 10(14) of the act and would be taxable?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Best Regards,

    • Money in NRE account is counted as being already taxed in foreign country as per their laws. You should be good.
      But, i would suggest to consult a CA if the amount is good enough to raise tax inspector's eye brows.

  • Hi Anil,
    Need your clarification,
    I am an business traveler who travel every month abroad to different countries.
    I am getting Indian salary and Per-diem from my company.The problem is my company is deducting tax from my salary based on the per-diem I am getting every month.My company is deducting tax for the entire money I will be getting in a month, my company is not asking for any expenditures that i made out of my per-diem, The perdiem is meant for meal expenditure abroad, my company is deducting the tax even for the money I spent abroad, do you see any mistakes in this system and what will be your suggestion for me to save my tax. Because it seems unfair for me, my whole salary is gone every month as tax adding to this I am paying extra money for the tax every month, so please help me on this!

    • Ideally, the business expenses should be borne by your employer and you should not pay tax on it. You should talk to your employer on their policy and why is it done this way.

  • Is it applicable for recent years or it is applicable for long time back ( 2012-2013) financial year. If you get notice how should i respond

    • Income tax on per diem allowance saving and brought back is applicable today also.
      You will get income tax notice only if you converted the savings into white and deposited in bank. That's the only way Income tax authority can track your income and then match it what you have declared in your ITR.

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