Receipts treated as Profit in Lieu of Salary [Section 17(3)] for Computing Salary Income

Section 17(3) gives an inclusive definition of “Profits in lieu of salary”. As the name suggests, these payments are received by the employee in lieu of or in addition to salary or wages. These payments include the following:

(1) Terminal Compensation:

The amount of any compensation due to or received by an assessee from his employer or former employer at or in connection with the termination of his employment or the modification of the terms and conditions relating thereto is regarded as profits in lieu of salary. The termination may be due to retirement, premature termination, resignation or otherwise.

(2) Payment from an Unrecognised Provident Fund or an Unrecognized Superannuation Fund:

The next category of such profit in lieu of salary is, payment due to or received by an assessee from an unrecognised provident fund or an unrecognised superannuation fund to the extent to which such payment does not consist of contributions by the employee or interest on such employee’s contribution.

In other words, total employer’s contribution till date and interest on such employer’s contribution would both be taxable. Employer’s contribution and interest thereon and interest on the employee’s contribution are not taxed during the period of employment. When the accumulated balance of such a fund is paid to the employee either on retirement or on termination of service, the untaxed portion, i.e. the employer’s contribution and interest thereon is taxed as ‘profit in lieu of salary’. The interest on employee’s contribution is taxed as ‘Income from other sources’.

(3) Payment under Keyman Insurance Policy:

Any payment due to or received by an employee, under a Keyman Insurance Policy including the sum allocated by way of bonus on such policy, will also be regarded as profit in lieu of salary.

(4) Any amount due or received before joining or after cessation of employment:

Any amounts due to or received, whether in lump sum or otherwise by any assessee from any person—

(A) before his joining any employment with that person; or

(B) after cessation of his employment with that person.

(5) Any other sum received by the employee from the employer:

All other payments made by an employer to an employee, would be brought under the head “Profits in lieu of salary”. This is a comprehensive provision by virtue of which all payments made by an employer to an employee whether made in pursuance of a legal obligation or voluntarily are brought under profit in lieu of salary.

However, the following receipts, will not be termed as ‘profits in lieu of salary’ to the extent they are exempt under section 10.

  1. Death-cum-retirement gratuity — Section 10(10)
  2. Commuted value of pension — Section 10(10A)
  3. Retrenchment compensation received by a workman — Section 10(10B)
  4. Payment received from a statutory provident fund — Section 10(11)
  5. Payment received from recognised provident fund — Section 10(12)
  6. Any payment from an approved superannuation fund as per section 10(13)
  7. House rent allowance exempt under section 10(13A)

In short, except for the terminal and other payments specifically exempted under clauses (10) to (13A) of section 10, all other payments received by an employee from an employer or former employer are liable to tax under this head.