Special Allowance in Salary: Understanding Its Significance

By Workloudly, 16-05-2023
Young employee walking with a trolley that shows he understands special allowance in his salary component


When it comes to understanding your salary, it’s essential to be aware of the various components that make up your earnings. One such component is special allowance. In this article, we will delve into the details of special allowance in salary, its importance, tax implications, and other related allowances. This article is specifically tailored for the Indian audience, shedding light on the context within the country’s employment landscape.

Understanding Special Allowance in Salary

What is Special Allowance?

Special allowance is a monetary benefit provided to employees by their employers. It is an additional allowance given on top of the basic salary and serves various purposes. Special allowance can be considered as a discretionary payment, and its purpose may vary from organisation to organisation. Unlike basic salary, which is fixed and forms the foundation of an employee’s compensation, special allowance is more flexible and can be adjusted based on factors such as performance, market conditions, or specific needs of the employee.

Importance of Special Allowance

Special allowance plays a significant role in an employee’s overall compensation package. It not only provides additional financial support but also offers employers the flexibility to reward employees based on their contributions and performance. By including special allowance in the salary structure, organizations can attract and retain talented individuals, motivate employees to perform better, and enhance employee satisfaction.

Types of Allowances in Salary

In the realm of salary components, it’s important to understand the different types of allowances. Generally, allowances can be categorised into taxable allowances and exempt allowances. Special allowance falls under the category of exempt allowances, which means it is not subject to income tax.

Taxable Allowances

Taxable allowances are those components of an employee’s salary that are subject to income tax. These may include house rent allowance (HRA), conveyance allowance, medical allowance, and others. The taxable allowances are added to the employee’s total income and are taxed as per the applicable income tax slabs.

Exempt Allowances

Exempt allowances, on the other hand, are the components of salary that are not subject to income tax. These allowances are exempt up to certain limits specified by the tax laws. Some common examples of exempt allowances include children’s education allowance, travel allowance, and hostel allowance.

Special Allowance

Special allowance falls within the category of exempt allowances. It is a flexible allowance that can be utilized by employers to meet the unique needs of their employees. Unlike other allowances that have specific purposes, special allowance does not have any predefined utilization. It provides employers the freedom to adjust the allowance as per the requirements and policies of the organization.

Special Allowance in Salary Slip

A salary slip is a document that provides a detailed breakdown of an employee’s salary components. It helps employees understand how their salary is structured and the amount they receive for each component, including special allowance. The salary slip typically includes components such as basic salary, allowances, deductions, and net salary.

Components of a Salary Slip

A salary slip consists of several components, each with its own significance. These components may vary from organization to organization but generally include:

  1. Basic Salary: This is the fixed portion of the salary that forms the foundation of an employee’s earnings.
  2. Allowances: These are additional components that provide financial support for specific purposes, such as special allowance, HRA, conveyance allowance, and medical allowance.
  3. Deductions: These include deductions for taxes, provident fund (PF), employee state insurance (ESI), and any other applicable deductions.
  4. Gross Salary: This is the total salary amount before any deductions are made.
  5. Net Salary: This is the amount an employee receives after deducting taxes and other applicable deductions from the gross salary.

Special Allowance in the Salary Slip

Within the salary slip, special allowance is usually listed as a separate component, indicating the amount an employee is entitled to receive as special allowance. The specific details of the special allowance, such as the percentage or amount, will be mentioned alongside other allowances on the salary slip. This transparency allows employees to have a clear understanding of the special allowance they receive and its contribution to their overall earnings.

Special Allowance Percentage in Salary

The special allowance percentage in salary refers to the proportion of the basic salary that is allocated as special allowance. The percentage may vary from organization to organization and can also be adjusted based on factors such as employee seniority, performance, or industry standards.

Calculation of Special Allowance Percentage

The calculation of the special allowance percentage in salary is based on the organization’s policies and the employee’s specific circumstances. Generally, it is determined by multiplying the basic salary by the special allowance percentage.

When the special allowance percentage is 20% and the employee’s base income is ₹50,000, for instance, the special allowance would be worth ₹10,000 (₹50,000 x 0.20).

It’s vital to remember that the special allowance % is subject to change and may fluctuate depending on things like performance reviews, economic situations, or corporate policy.

Factors Affecting Special Allowance Percentage

Several factors can influence the special allowance percentage in salary. These factors may include:

  1. Industry Standards: The special allowance percentage may be influenced by industry norms and standards. Certain industries may offer higher special allowance percentages to attract and retain skilled professionals.
  2. Employee Seniority: The seniority of an employee within an organization can also impact the special allowance percentage. Employees with higher positions or greater experience may be eligible for a higher special allowance percentage.
  3. Performance and Contribution: An employee’s performance and contributions to the organization can play a role in determining the special allowance percentage. High-performing employees or those who have made significant contributions may receive a higher percentage as a reward.
  4. Market Conditions: Economic factors and market conditions can influence the special allowance percentage. In times of inflation or a competitive job market, organizations may increase the special allowance percentage to remain competitive and retain their employees.

Tax Implications of Special Allowance

Taxability of Special Allowance

One crucial aspect of special allowance is its taxability. While special allowance is a part of the salary, it is generally exempt from income tax. However, there are certain conditions and limits defined by the tax laws that determine the taxability of the special allowance.

Exempted Portion of Special Allowance

As per the Income Tax Act, a certain portion of the special allowance is exempt from income tax. The exempted portion is determined based on the actual amount of special allowance received, subject to specific limits defined by the tax laws.

It’s important to note that the exemption limits and conditions can change from time to time, and it’s advisable to consult a tax professional or refer to the latest tax regulations to ensure accurate understanding and compliance.

Understanding Other Allowances in Salary

Apart from special allowance, there are various other allowances that contribute to an employee’s overall salary package. Let’s briefly explore some of the commonly known allowances:

  1. Basic Allowance: The basic allowance forms the foundation of an employee’s salary and is a fixed component.
  2. House Rent Allowance (HRA): HRA is provided to employees to cover their rental expenses. It is taxable but subject to certain exemptions based on specific conditions.
  3. Dearness Allowance (DA): DA is designed to offset the impact of inflation and provide employees with increased purchasing power. It is calculated as a percentage of the basic salary.
  4. Conveyance Allowance: Conveyance allowance is given to employees to cover their travel expenses related to work. It is generally taxable but subject to specific exemptions.
  5. Medical Allowance: Medical allowance is provided to employees to cover their medical expenses. It is taxable but subject to specific exemptions under certain conditions.


  1. Is special allowance taxable in India?
    • No, special allowance is generally exempt from income tax within certain limits as defined by the tax laws.
  2. How is special allowance different from other allowances?
    • Special allowance is a flexible component that can be adjusted based on the organisation’s policies and employee-specific circumstances. Unlike other allowances with specific purposes, special allowance does not have predefined utilisation.
  3. Can special allowance be included in deductions while filing taxes?
    • No, special allowance is generally exempt from income tax and cannot be included as a deduction while filing taxes.
  4. Is special allowance mandatory in a salary package?
    • No, special allowance is not mandatory. Its inclusion in a salary package depends on the organisation’s policies and the specific circumstances of the employee.
  5. Can the employer decide the percentage of special allowance?
    • Yes, the employer has the discretion to determine the special allowance percentage based on factors such as industry standards, employee seniority, performance, and market conditions.
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