As a salaried professional, you might have noticed the term ‘professional tax’ in the payslip or Form 16 that is issued to you. So, what is a professional tax, and should you know about it? This article will attempt to give you a better understanding of professional tax meaning, why it is deducted and answer various queries you might have regarding it.

What is Professional tax, and why is it collected?

The term ‘professional tax’ is one of those phrases whose meaning is not entirely conveyed. The name might suggest that it is the tax that is levied on professionals only, but this is not the case. It is the tax that is charged on every kind of profession, employment and trade. It is based on the income a person receives from their job or trade. It is levied on every individual who earns in this fashion, whether they work fulltime, part-time or are freelancers, whenever their income exceeds the threshold that is specified.

The article 246 of Constitution of India states that the right to make laws that are related to Union List, which also includes the taxes chargeable on various incomes, belongs exclusively to the Parliament. The state can make or amend laws that concern only the state or concurrent list. Professional tax, on the other hand, is a type of tax charged on the income of an individual that is collected by the state government. It is interesting to note that not every state in our country has chosen to charge the professional tax.

Rates of Professional tax

Since professional tax rules are regulated and levied by the state government, the tax rates differ from state to state. Every state has a set of laws concerning the professional tax that is applicable for that state. What is standard across all states is that they all implement a slab system that is based on a person’s income to charge professional tax.

The article 267 of the constitution that gives the state government the power to levy the professional tax also imposes some regulations. The state government can charge a maximum amount of Rs 2,500 as professional tax per person.

Let us look at the professional tax slabs that some states charge

Karnataka Professional tax slab rates

Monthly salary or wage going up to Rs 15,000 NIL
Monthly salary or wage more than Rs 15,000 Rs 200 per month

Andhra Pradesh Professional tax slab rates

Monthly salary or wage going up to Rs 15,000 NIL
Monthly salary or wage that falls between Rs 15,001 – Rs 20,000 Rs 150 per month
Monthly salary or wage more than Rs 20,000 Rs 200 per month

Who collects the professional tax?

The Commercial Tax Department collects the professional tax. Each state collects the amount, which then ultimately reach the municipality corporation fund.

The person responsible for the payment of professional tax

Who is liable to pay a professional tax? Any individual who earns an income in the form of a salary is liable to pay this tax. This also includes chartered accountants, lawyers, doctors, etc. Under the purview of this tax are also merchants, business owners and people with other occupations. The staff members employed by private companies are also required to pay the professional tax.

In the case of employees, the employer is the person who is responsible for the deduction and payment of professional tax to the government. This is regulated by the slabs provided by the legislation of the state in question. Employers who belong to corporates, partnership firms or are sole proprietors, are also people who are carrying out a trade or profession and are similarly liable to pay professional tax. They are also governed by the same rules and regulations of the state’s legislation.

The employer needs two different kinds of certificates to fulfil these two roles. He needs to register for a professional tax registration certificate to pay the tax for his profession or trade. He also needs to register for a professional tax enrolment certificate that authorizes him to deduct the tax on behalf of his employees and make the payment. Other than these, each state may require a separate registration from individual offices.

Persons who are maintaining their own freelancing business and do not have any employees also have to register, and are subject to the state’s monetary threshold. A professional tax is also liable for exemption in specific categories, as provided by some States. For example, in Karnataka, parents or guardians of any individual who is intellectually disabled or visually challenged are excused from paying Professional Tax.

What is the procedure for the payment of professional tax?
The procedure for payment of Professional Tax varies from state to state. But even though it is State-specific, the general modes of payment of the professional tax involve both offline and online methods. You might also be required to file professional tax returns at specified intervals, on the basis of the requirement of the state.

What happens if there is a violation in the payment of professional tax?

Since the state collects the professional tax, the penalty depends on its legislation. But, in general, all states may charge a fine if an individual fails to register for professional tax payment when the law is applicable in their case. Penalties are also applicable in case an individual fails to make the payment within the due date, or does not file the return at the proper time.

In the case of Maharashtra, for instance, a penalty fine of Rs 5 per day is imposed if a person does not register in time. If there is a delay in registration, the interest of 1.25% applies for every month. Delays in non-payment of professional tax attract a 10% penalty. In case there is a delay in the filing process, the penalty amount can range from Rs 1000 to Rs 2000.