What Are 5 Heads Of Income Tax?

By Ektha Surana


Updated on: Jun 6th, 2024


15 min read

According to the Income Tax Act, a taxpayer’s earnings are divided into 5 heads of income. At the end of each financial year, you must correctly classify your earnings under these heads of income for accurate tax calculation

It is essential for you to know which of your earnings falls under which category. Keep reading to get a clear understanding of the income heads.

What are the 5 Heads of Income? 

The 5 heads of income tax are:

  • Income from Salary
  • Income from House Property
  • Income from Profits and Gains from Business or Profession
  • Income from Capital Gains
  • Income from Other Sources

Income from Salary

Any income that you receive in terms of the service you provide on a contract of employment is applicable for taxation under this head. This includes salary, advance salary, perquisites, gratuity, commission, annual bonus and pension. 

The following section governs the Income from the Salary

  • Section 15 describes the taxability of income from Salary
  • Section 16 explains about deduction available under salaries
  • Section 17 explains the components of the Salary like Monetary compensation, Perquisites etc.

This tax head also includes some exemptions:

  • House Rent Allowance (HRA): As a salaried individual, if you live in a rented house, you can claim House Rent Allowance for partial or complete tax exemptions.  
  • Transport Allowance: In case of blind/deaf and dumb/orthopedically handicapped employees, you can claim allowance of  Rs 1,600 per month.

The tax calculation structure of salary income is as follows, and such information needs to be filled in Schedule S of your ITR form.

Schedule S of your ITR form

Income from House Property   

An individual’s income from his or her house property or land appurtenant such property is taxable under the head of income from house property. To put it simply, this head includes the policy for calculating the tax on rental income that you receive from your properties.

Broadly Income from House Property has three sub-classifications

  1. Self Occupied Property 
  2. Let out Property 
  3. Deemed Let out Property

In case you own more than two self-occupied house, then only two of such houses is considered to be self-occupied and the rest are considered to be deemed let out. The taxation occurs on income received from both commercial and residential property.  

Details on such house property need to be declared in Schedule HP of your ITR in the below format 

details of house property

Income from Profits and Gains from Business or Profession

The profits that you earn from any kind of business or profession are taxable under this head. You can subtract your expenses from the total income in order to determine the amount on which tax is chargeable. 

Here are the types of income that are chargeable under this head:

  • Profits generated from the sale of a certain license
  • Gains earned by an individual during an assessment year
  • The profits that an organisation makes on its income
  • Cash received on the export of a government scheme
  • The benefits that a business receives 
  • Gains, bonuses or salary that an individual receives due to a partnership with a firm.

Individual or HUF earning income from business and profession must file ITR-3 or ITR-4

Income from Capital Gains

When you earn profits by transferring or selling an asset that was held as an investment, that income is taxable under the head of income from capital gains. A large number of assets, like gold, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, stocks, etc., fall under capital assets. 

Now, you can subdivide capital gains into 

  1. Short-term capital gains and 
  2. Long-term capital gains. 

Here is a table showing the holding period and tax rates for different asset classes as follows;

Nature of Asset

Holding Period

Short-term tax rate

Long-term tax rate

Immovable Property

24 months

Slab Rates

20% after Indexation

Unlisted equity shares

24 months

Slab Rates

20% after Indexation

Listed Equity shares or Equity oriented mutual funds

12 months



Other Capital assets

36 months

Slabs rate

20% after indexation

Non-Equity Mutual funds (Debts funds) - Purchased after 1st April 2023

Not Applicable

Slab rates

Slab rates

Details of capital gains need to be disclosed in Schedule CG of your ITR form. If you are an individual, you will have to opt for ITR 2 or 3

Income from Other Sources    

Among the five heads of income tax, this one includes any other income that does not have any mention in the above 4 heads. They fall under Section 56 sub-section (2) of the Income-tax Act and include income from dividends, interest, rent on plant and machinery, lottery, bank deposits, gambling, card games, sports rewards, etc.  

Heads of Income vs Sources of Income

The heads of income are ways to classify the earnings or gains of an individual during a given year as per the Income Tax Act. This is necessary for taxation purposes. They are:

  • Income from Salaries
  • Income from House Property
  • Profits and Gains from Profession or Business
  • Capital Gains
  • Income from other sources

On the other hand, sources of income for any person or business are monetary sources from which they can earn an income. 
For individuals, they are:

  • Salary
  • Interest
  • Commission, etc. 

In case of businesses, they are:

  • Returns on investments
  • Profits
  • Grants from the government and more

What are the Five Features of Tax?

The five features of tax are:

  • Taxes can be of various types. Income tax is one of the most common taxes in the country. Taxes are of 4 types: Direct tax, Indirect tax, Business tax, and Property and Sales Tax.
  • It is compulsory for all liable citizens to pay tax, and refusing to do so is a punishable offence.
  • Tax is payable periodically and regularly as determined by the tax authority.
  • It is levied in order to meet the government’s public expenditure.
  • Tax does not have any direct quid-pro-quo between the public authority and taxpayers.

Now that you know the 5 heads of income with sections, you can easily classify your income under the proper heads. However, to calculate your net tax accurately and avoid unnecessary penalties, you may opt for a tax professional. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is liable to pay income tax?

Any individual, Hindu Undivided Families, Firms, LLPs, Companies, Body of Individuals, Association of Persons and any other artificial judicial person not mentioned above are liable to pay income tax.

How to calculate tax amount?

An individual can check his/her tax liability by using a free online tax calculator.

Is agricultural income taxable?

No, agricultural income is not taxable under Section 10 (1) of the Income Tax Act. Moreover, it does not fall under an individual’s total income.

How does the government collect income tax?

The government collects income tax through voluntary payments like Advance Tax and Self-Assessment Tax, Tax Deducted at Source (TDS), and Tax Collected at Source (TCS).

Does income from animal husbandry fall under agricultural income?

No, income from animal husbandry does not fall under agricultural income.

About the Author

Multitasking between pouring myself coffees and poring over the ever-changing tax laws. Here, I've authored 100+ blogs on income tax and simplified complex income tax topics like the intimidating crypto tax rules, old vs new tax regime debate, changes in debt funds taxation, budget analysis and more. Some combinations I like- tax and content, finance & startups, technology & psychology, fitness & neuroscience. Read more

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Quick Summary

The Income Tax Act divides taxpayers' earnings into 5 heads of income: Salary, House Property, Profits and Gains from Business or Profession, Capital Gains, and Other Sources. Each type of income has specific rules, exemptions, and tax calculation methods. Understanding these heads ensures correct income classification for accurate tax filing.

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