Tax experts say that an employee can still claim tax benefits under HRA in his or her tax return. "The requirement for furnishing PAN of landlord is only to one's employer only. However, once a person is to file his/her income tax return, there is no requirement to furnish the PAN of landlord," says Sandeep Sehgal, director of tax and regulatory at Ashok Maheshwary & Associates LLP.
Even if the company may not allow HRA exemption to the employee, due to non-availability of PAN or declaration by the landlord about not having PAN, still the employee has the option to claim that while filing his or her income tax return, he says.
Mr Sehgal however says that it could attract scrutiny from tax authorities. "The tax authorities can examine the cases to verify the genuineness of the claim made by the employee," he says. "It is expected that HRA claims will be closely scrutinised henceforth considering the consistent introduction of measures during past few years. In fact, the chances are greater if the claim doesn't appear in Form 16 but claimed in the return."
To substantiate the claim, the employee needs to keep a record of the rent agreement/lease deed, rent receipts, intimation to the society for the occupancy etc., says Mr Sehgal. Also, it is advisable to ensure that the payments are made through bank as cash transactions may not be considered genuine, he adds.