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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Understanding CTC (Cost To Company) of your Salary and its Components

               Whether you are joining your first job or changing jobs, it is important to understand the difference between Cost to Company (CTC) and take home salary. It will help you in better negotiation with the HR and structuring of the salary.
              The CTC, as quoted by employers and the take home pay are two different amounts. Also salary hikes in the form of an increased CTC doesn’t necessarily increase the monthly salary. So what exactly is this CTC and as an employee what all are you entitled for? This article aims to clarify the confusions that often arise in people’s minds when it comes to salary structures.
              The Cost to Company refers to the total expenditure a company would have to incur to employ you. It includes monetary and non-monetary benefits, such as monthly pay, training costs, accommodation, telephone, medical reimbursements or other expenses, borne by the company to keep you employed. The total CTC as need not be the actual salary in hand at the end of the month. It is simply a sum of various components put together.
              Simply speaking, CTC is the amount that you cost your company. That is, it is the amount that the company spends – directly or indirectly – because of employing you.
Thus, it is the money given to you (your in-hand component), plus the money spent because of you.

First we will see what the components of salary are. Here they are:
  • Basic
  • Dearness Allowance (DA)
  • Incentives or bonuses
  • Conveyance allowance
  • House Rent Allowance (HRA)
  • Medical allowance (Reimbursement)
  • Leave Travel Allowance or Concession (LTA / LTC)
  • Vehicle Allowance
  • Telephone / Mobile Phone Allowance
  • Special Allowance
All the above are a part of your in-hand salary, and therefore, are a part of your CTC pay as well. Now let’s look at some of the other components of your CTC pay – the parts that inflate your CTC package but may not be actually given to you!

Components of CTC
Companies, offer various attractive components in the CTC to retain and boost the morale of the employees. Where some salary components are fully taxable some are fully tax-exempt. The composition of your CTC and a few of its components could be grouped as below-

1) Fixed Salary – This is the major part of your CTC and forms part of your monthly take home. It commonly consists of:
-Basic Salary: The actual pay you receive for rendering services to the company. This is a taxable amount.
-Dearness Allowance: A taxable amount, this is paid to compensate for the rising cost of living.
-House Rent Allowance (or HRA): Paid to meet expenses of renting a house. The least of the following is exempt from tax.
    a) Actual HRA received
    b) 50% of salary (basic + DA) if residing in a metropolitan city, or else 40% for residing in
         non-metro city 
    c) Rent paid – 10 % of your salary (Basic + DA)
-Conveyance Allowance: Paid for daily commute expenses. Up to an amount of Rs 800 per month is exempt from tax.
2) Reimbursements - This is the portion of your CTC, paid as reimbursements through billed claims.
-Meal coupons: Many companies provide their employees with subsidized meal coupons in their cafeterias. Such costs incurred by companies in the form of subsidies are included in the CTC. Meal coupons are tax exempt provided it is not in the form of cash.
-Mobile/Telephone Bills: Telephone or mobile expenditure up to a certain limit is reimbursed by many companies through a billed claim, and is a taxable amount.
-Medical Reimbursements: Paid either monthly or yearly, for medicines and medical treatment. The entire amount is taxable. However, up to Rs 15,000 could be tax exempt, if bills are produced.
3) Retirement Benefits - This is available to you only on retirement or resignation.

-Provident Fund: Employers contribute an equal 12% to the provident fund account. This employer’s contribution though received only on retirement or resignation is an expense incurred by the company every month and thus is included in the CTC.
-Gratuity: Companies manage gratuity through a fund maintained by an insurance company. The payment towards the gratuity annually is sometimes shown in CTC.
4) Other Benefits and Perks
-Leave Travel Allowance: It is the cost of travel anywhere in India for employees on leave. Tax    exemption if allowed twice in a block of four calendar years.
-Medical allowance: Some companies offer medical care through health facilities for employees and their families. The cost of providing this benefit to the employee could also form part of CTC.
-Contribution to Insurance and Pension: Premiums paid by companies on behalf of employees for health, life insurance and Employees’ Pension Scheme, could form a part of the CTC.
-Miscellaneous Benefits: Other perks which companies include under CTC could be electricity, servant, furnishings, credit cards and housing.
5) Bonus: This is the benefit paid on satisfactory work performance for employee motivation. Though this amount is not assured to the employee, most companies include the maximum amount that can be paid as bonus, to the CTC. The two types of bonuses that are normally paid out are:
-Fixed Annual Bonus: Paid on the basis of employee performance, either monthly or in most cases annually, it is a fully taxable amount.
-Productivity Linked Variable Bonus: Complete bonus amount is paid only on 100% achievement of target, nevertheless it still is included as part of your CTC.
A note on salaries of Government Employees:-
We often hear people say that the salary of government employees is quite low. Although there is truth in this, government salaries wouldn’t seem too less if we look at it from a “CTC” point of view.
When we talk about government salaries, we only talk about the “in-hand” component. But we forget that on a cost-to-company basis, it can be quite substantial.

What extras do government servants get? Here’s a sample list:

  • The 12% of basic that the government deposits in their PF accounts, just like private companies
  • Membership of government clubs or gymkhanas
  • Free stay at various circuit houses and government guest houses
  • Free telephone connection at home
  • Free car with driver
  • Reimbursement of newspaper bills
  • Free use of many libraries
  • In case of defense personnel (Army / Navy / Air Force), a huge subsidy on items bought from their “canteens” (like groceries, appliances, etc.)
When these things are taken into account and salaries of government employees is considered on a cost to company (CTC) basis, it won’t seem too less compared to the private sector!

Having understood what CTC is:
             Each company too has its own way of calculating the cost to company. One must take time to find out what the actual benefits are by asking for the break-up of the CTC so as to know the entitlement.
             If you are just joining the company, try to negotiate with the HR as to opting out of some facilities in exchange for increasing the take home.
            Understand the expenditure limits and tax angle of perks and benefits, and use them smartly. In further articles we will see tax implications of each of these components separately.

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