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Many salaried employees might be very well aware of the term ‘professional tax’ as it would have been mentioned in the payslips/Form 16 issued to them. But all of them may or may not understand what it is and why is it appearing in their payslips/Form 16 as a deduction from their salary income. Hence, this article is an attempt to provide a better picture of what is ‘Professional tax’ and why is it deducted and is it only salaried class who are bearing it.

1. What is Professional tax and who levies it?

The nomenclature ‘Professional tax’ could be one one those terms which does not completely convey the real meaning of the term. Unlike the name suggests, it is just not the tax levied only on professionals. It is a tax on all kinds of professions, trades, and employments and levied based on the income of such profession, trade and employment. It is levied on employees, person carrying on business including freelancers, professionals etc subject to income exceeding the monetary threshold if any.

As per Article 246 of Constitution of India, only Parliament has the exclusive power to make laws with respect to Union List which includes taxes on income. State has the power to make laws only with respect to Concurrent list and State list. However, Professional tax though is a kind of tax on income is levied by State Government (Not all states in the country chose to levy professional tax). State Government is also empowered to make laws with respect to professional tax though being tax on income under Article 276 of the Constitution of India which deals with tax on professions, trades, callings and employments.

It may be noted that professional tax is a deductible amount for the purpose of Income-tax Act, 1961 and can be deducted from taxable income.

2. Professional tax rate

Professional tax being levied by State Government, is different in different states. Every state has its own laws and regulation to govern professional tax of that particular state. However, all the states do follow slab system based on the income to levy professional tax.

Further, Article 276 of the Constitution which empowers State Government to levy professional tax also has provided for a maximum cap of Rs 2,500 beyond which professional tax cannot be charged on any person.

Few illustrative slabs in the country

Professional tax rate slabs in Karnataka

Monthly salary/wage upto Rs 15,000 NIL
Monthly salary/wage > Rs 15,000 Rs 200 per month


Professional tax rate slabs in Andhra Pradesh

Monthly salary/wage upto Rs 15,000 NIL
Monthly salary/wage between Rs 15,001 – Rs 20,000 Rs 150 per month
Monthly salary/wage > Rs 20,000 Rs 200 per month


3. Who is responsible to collect and pay professional tax?

Professional tax is collected by the Commercial Tax Department. The commercial tax department of the respective states collects it which ultimately reaches the fund of municipality corporation.

Person responsible to pay professional tax

In case of employees, an employer is the person responsible to deduct and pay professional tax to the State Government subject to monetary threshold if any provided by respective State’s legislation. Additionally, employer (corporates, partnership firms, sole proprietorship etc) also being a person carrying on trade/profession is also required to pay professional tax on his trade/profession again subject to monetary threshold if any provided by respective State’s legislation. In such case, employer needs to register and obtain both professional tax registration certificate to be able to pay professional tax on his trade/profession and professional tax enrolment certificate to be able to deduct the tax from his employees and pay. Further, separate registration may be required for each office depending on respective State’s legislation.

Persons who are carrying on freelancing business without any employees also required to register themselves subject to monetary threshold if any provided by respective State’s legislation.

However, professional tax levy is subject to exemption provided by respective State to certain categories. For example: Parents or guardian of any person who is suffering from mental retardation, blind persons are exempted among others from levy of Karnataka Professional tax.

4. What is the procedure to pay professional tax?Is any return to be filed?

This is again State specific. However, in general professional tax may be paid either online/offline. Further, depending on State’s requirement professional tax return also need to be filed at specified intervals.

5. Consequences of violation of professional tax regulation

While the actual amount of penalty or penal interest may depend on respective State’s legislation, penalty is being levied by all such states for not registering once professional tax legislation becomes applicable. Further, there are also penalties for not making the payment within due date and also failing to file the return within specified due date.

For example: In the State of Maharashtra Rs 5/day is imposed as penalty for delay in registration, Interest @ 1.25% per month of delay in payment, penalty of 10% of amount of tax in case of delay/non payment of professional tax, Rs 1000 – Rs 2000 penalty for delay in filing the return

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