Budget 2020: Tax deductions for preventive care?

Union Budget 2020: Tax deductions for preventive care?

Representative image. (Credit: iStockPhotos)

By Sarvesh Shashi

Data from the World Economic Forum indicates that over 77% of Indians will be under the age of 45 by the next decade. However, despite being one of the youngest countries, we are also the most unfit with estimates suggesting that 1 in every 3 Indians are medically unfit and suffer from preventable lifestyle disorders. In the last five years, the government has exhibited a keen interest in the revival of Yoga. The hon’ble prime minister has personally taken a lot of interest in positioning Yoga as a universal exercise that can help people stay fit, look good and be healthy.

While these have been welcome and have helped encourage players like SARVA who are ensuring that there is a more organized and holistic approach to the concept of yoga, we still have a long way to go. Preventive health and wellness is the need of the hour for each given the high instances of disease and lifestyle-induced illnesses in our country. In order for holistic health to be made more attractive to consumers, it is important that the tax component on commercially-run Yoga practices and institutes be revisited since yoga can help address chronic medical ailments and fill the gaps in traditional healthcare. 

Under section 80D of the Income Tax Act of 1961, taxpayers can claim tax deductions on health checkups and health premiums; preventive wellness, however, is still placed under a high tax bracket. This year however we hope that the budget goes beyond providing tax deductions to those getting back to good health after falling sick but also supports and incentivise those who take care of their own fitness. This could potentially include fitness services such as memberships to gyms, fitness studios, commercially-run yoga centers, etc.  

(Sarvesh Shashi is the Founder of SARVA)