When you think of coupons you instantly think of discounts, but Sodexo coupons are slightly different. They don’t exactly offer discounts but help save taxes. Let’s see how:
#1. What are Sodexo Coupons?
These are meal vouchers given by a company to its employees for availing tax benefits and can be used at partner restaurants by the employee only during work hours. As part of a salary package, companies (mostly MNC’s) offer employees an option to choose between these or cash. If employees opt for meal vouchers instead of cash then they are tax free.
Apart from meal vouchers which are the most popular ones in India, Sodexo also provides leisure passes, book cards, grocery and training vouchers to various companies and government authorities. Companies can then give these out as employee incentives to someone who’s performed well.
#2. How do they help save taxes?
According to Income Tax rules the maximum amount that can be claimed with these coupons is Rs. 50 per meal. Assuming a person eats at least 2 meals per day. Then they can ask for Rs. 100 per day and for 25 days a month, she/he can ask for food coupons worth Rs. 2500. Now this Rs. 2500 is tax free.
By law the benefit of these coupons is limited to Rs. 1000 – Rs. 2000 per month but many companies offer vouchers worth Rs. 3000 – Rs. 5000 per month. Sometimes employees misuse these vouchers for shopping non-food items or transfer it to their friends and family, when they are strictly meant only for the employee to use during work hours only for meals. And since they are paper coupons you cannot trace the person or product to enforce stringent rules on the responsible party.
Using these loopholes to their advantage people evade taxes. That’s why RBI has mandated digitizing these coupons.
What does that mean?
This means all paper meal vouchers like Sodexo will have to be issued in electronic form or cards which are re-loadable and all existing paper vouchers shall not be valid beyond December 31, 2017. Digitizing these coupons would make the system more secure, and prevent people from transferring the benefits to their friends and family.
Keeping all these points in mind, you can go ahead and say YES to Sodexo because legally it can help you save taxes but if you try anything beyond the legal framework you might get caught!