The COVID-19 pandemic does not seem to have an end in sight. But we need to continue to hope for the best and carry on various aspects of life, albeit with some precautions.
As an NRI, what should one do to ensure that personal finances are optimally managed –
One of the conditions for a person to qualify as an NRI for taxation matters is that they should spend less than 120 days in India. But many NRIs have had to extend their stay in India due to the Covid-19 lockdown. They have ended up staying for more than 120 days in India. The Central Board of Direct Taxes has confirmed that the extended stay in India due to the lockdown will not be counted to determine their residential status for the FY 2019-20. It applies to individuals who came to India before 22 March and could not leave on or before 31 March 2020.
NRIs quarantined in India after 1 March 2020 on account of Covid-19 has no clarity about the status. Read – India Tax for NRIs on Indian Income.
If you are an NRI, stuck in India because of the pandemic, understand your residential status and file your income tax returns appropriately.
A crisis is the right time to evaluate your insurance cover. Check the coverage of the life insurance policy of earning members in the family and the medical insurance cover of you and your family. The coverage should be comprehensive to take care of unexpected events and medical emergencies.
The thumb rule for a term life plan is for it to cover at least 8-10 times your annual income plus any unpaid loans. It will be a good idea to have term life cover till retirement age but this may differ depending on your family and financial situation. It might be good for a nuclear family to have a medical cover from ₹5,00,000 – ₹20,00,000 depending on the number of members, income level, and health conditions.
“NRIs should check if their insurance policies in India and their country of residence covers them in different geographical areas and for pandemics. They should take appropriate actions to ensure maximum coverage.” wiseNRI
There are ups and downs in the market. The global economy shows many worrying signs, and investment portfolios have been negatively affected initially but recovered in this financial year. Check how your investments are doing. Some of them may still take a long time to recover, and others may be doing well. For example, robust technology stocks are performing well in the US market. At the same time, interest rates have gone down. Check if you need to reallocate funds to different investment products or rebalance your portfolio. Monitor your SIPs and SWPs and continue SIPs in well-performing funds and stocks.
The real estate market in India is flat. The demand is less. Developers are postponing projects due to low economic activity and labor unavailability. If you are in India, and in need of property, you can consider a readymade property from a renowned developer. Ensure that the title is clear, and there are no claimants or issues related to the sale. If you created an emergency fund for events like a medical condition or a job loss, you can look to buy a property. You can negotiate for a favorable price or good value as demand is low. Moreover, in a falling interest rate scenario, you will get home loans at an attractive interest rate. If you are abroad, you may want to postpone the decision as you cannot immediately come down to India to view the property or manage documentation. Read – Is it a good time to buy a property?
Job losses and pay cuts are a reality today across the world. Check and control your expenditure. Increase your savings and set up an emergency fund for at least 3-4 months’ worth of expenses. Read – How to manage financial uncertainty.
Manage Financial Transactions in case of transfer/move/loss of job
Many NRIs are in situations wherein they have to transfer from their country of residence due to the loss of a job, visa issues, etc. In such cases, they may come back to India. Remember to –
- Convert bank accounts to resident bank accounts.
- Assess your residential status to file appropriate income tax returns.
- Ensure you have an insurance cover that will provide financial security in India.
- Take steps such as liquidation of investments abroad or a way to manage your investments abroad when in India.
- Read – Things to take care of When moving back to India.
It is essential to handle money matters wisely irrespective of conditions around us so that we do not have to worry about our financial goals later.
If you have any questions or suggestions – please add in the comment section.