How Leave Travel Allowance Works: A Complete Guide

business people walking in a hurry symbolising leave travel allowance

This guide will walk you through what Leave Travel Allowance (LTA) is, why it’s beneficial to offer it, and who qualifies for it under U.S. labor laws.

What is leave travel allowance?

Leave Travel Allowance (LTA) is a type of benefit employers can offer to their employees to cover travel costs for vacations. Essentially, it's a way to encourage employees to take time off and travel, helping them refresh and return to work re-energized.

This allowance typically covers travel expenses incurred by the employee during their leave. Importantly, under the Income Tax Act, certain conditions allow this allowance to be tax-free, which means employees can claim LTA tax exemption on travel expenses without increasing their net taxable income.

Should you provide leave travel allowance to your employees?

Offering leave travel allowance can be a smart move for your business. Here’s why:

  • Boosts employee morale: Providing LTA shows that you care about your employees' well-being outside of work. This can boost job satisfaction and improve company loyalty.

  • Tax benefits: Both you and your employees can enjoy tax exemptions on travel costs. This means while your employees save on taxes, your company can also benefit from reduced payroll taxes.

  • Attracts talent: In competitive job markets, offering LTA can make your company stand out. Potential hires often look for benefits that enhance work-life balance, and LTA does exactly that.

Who is eligible to receive LTA?

Eligibility for leave travel allowance is generally outlined by an employer’s policies. Typically, full-time employees are eligible for LTA, but there are nuances depending on the company's specific regulations and the agreements in place. Here are some common criteria used to determine eligibility:

  • Employment status: Full-time employees are usually eligible, whereas part-time or temporary employees may not be.

  • Length of service: Some companies require employees to have been with the company for a certain period, e.g., at least one year.

  • Performance metrics: In some cases, eligibility might be tied to meeting certain performance goals or criteria.

Conditions under which LTA is granted

LTA is not automatically given for any travel. Here are the conditions typically required for an employee to claim leave travel allowance:

  • Travel with dependents: Often, LTA can be claimed when traveling with family members such as spouses, children, or dependent parents.

  • Approved leave duration: The travel must occur during a period of approved leave from the company. The duration of this leave might also be specified in the LTA policy.

  • Domestic travel: Typically, LTA covers domestic travel expenses. International travel may not qualify unless specified by the employer.

Leave travel allowance rules for different modes of transport

LTA offers tax benefits on travel expenses under certain conditions as per the Income Tax Act. These benefits, however, can vary based on the mode of transport used during travel. Here's an overview of how LTA rules apply to different modes of transport:

1. Air travel

  • Eligibility: LTA covers economy class airfare for domestic flights.

  • Coverage: Only the airfare for the shortest route to the destination is eligible.

  • Documentation: Airline tickets and boarding passes must be preserved and submitted to claim LTA.

2. Rail travel

  • Eligibility: All classes of train travel within the country are covered by LTA.

  • Coverage: Like air travel, only the fare for the shortest route is considered.

  • Documentation: Train tickets or e-tickets, along with proof of journey such as reservation slips, are required for LTA claims.

3. Road travel

  • Eligibility: If the destination is connected by rail but the journey is performed by other modes of road transport, LTA covers first-class or deluxe class fare of such transport, typically up to the amount that would have been incurred if the journey had been undertaken using the highest class of train available to the destination.

  • Coverage: For places not connected by rail, LTA is allowed as per the first-class or deluxe rate of fare by the shortest route to that place.

  • Documentation: Bus tickets, taxi receipts, or fare details are necessary when claiming LTA.

4. Waterways

  • Eligibility: Travel by cruise or ship within the country can also be claimed, but it’s less common.

  • Coverage: As with other forms, only the fare for the shortest route is eligible.

  • Documentation: Tickets or proof of travel expenses incurred are needed.

Special considerations:

  • Combination of modes: In cases where multiple modes of transport are used to reach the destination, each segment of the trip needs to be documented separately, and each needs to adhere to the LTA rules applicable to that mode of transport.

  • Non-covered expenses: Expenses related to accommodation, meals, and personal entertainment are not covered under LTA, regardless of the transport mode.

  • International travel: Typically, LTA only covers domestic travel expenses. International travel is generally not eligible for LTA unless specified by the employer.

These rules aim to provide a framework for employees and employers to understand what expenses can be claimed and the necessary documentation needed to support such claims.

Components of leave travel allowance

Leave travel allowance is a beneficial component in an employee's salary package that helps cover costs associated with travel during leave periods. This section will delve into what types of expenses LTA can cover, what it typically does not include, and the limits and caps that apply to these allowances.

What expenses are covered under LTA?

LTA mainly aims to cover the actual travel costs incurred by an employee during official holidays or leave periods. The primary expenses that can be claimed under LTA include:

  • Airfare: LTA covers economy class airfare for domestic travel as per the conditions outlined by the Income Tax Act 1961.

  • Rail and bus fares: Tickets for trains and state-operated buses are eligible for LTA claims, providing they are the shortest routes to the destination.

  • Taxi fares: In cases where public transportation is not available, taxi fares between the nearest transport hub and the destination can be covered.

It’s important for employers and employees to keep receipts, boarding passes, and other proof of travel, as these are required by tax authorities to claim LTA exemption on these travel expenses.

What is not included in LTA?

While LTA covers a range of travel-related expenses, there are specific costs that are generally excluded:

  • Accommodation: Hotel stays and other types of lodging are not covered under LTA.

  • Meals and personal expenses: Food, shopping, and other personal expenditures incurred during travel are not eligible for LTA.

  • International travel: Only domestic travel within the country is eligible for LTA claims. Expenses for international trips are not included under standard LTA policies.

  • Housing loan interest: Any interest paid on housing loans during the travel period cannot be claimed as part of LTA.

Understanding these exclusions is crucial for effectively managing and claiming LTA.

Limits and caps on LTA amounts

The limits on LTA are typically defined by the employer's policy and the guidelines set forth by the Income Tax Department. Some common stipulations include:

  • Frequency of claims: LTA can generally be claimed twice in a block of four calendar years. Unclaimed LTA can sometimes be carried forward, but specific rules apply.

  • Cap on amounts: There might be a cap on the amount that can be claimed, which usually depends on the actual travel costs incurred. Employers often set these caps based on the level of the employee within the organization.

  • Financial year consideration: Claims must align with the financial year in which the travel occurred, influencing when and how LTA can be utilized.

Employers need to clearly communicate these limits and caps to ensure that both they and their employees can maximize the benefits of LTA while complying with all regulatory requirements.

How to claim leave travel allowance?

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Claiming leave travel allowance can significantly reduce employee taxable income by covering some of the travel expenses incurred during your leave. Here's a simple, step-by-step process to help you successfully claim LTA, ensuring you meet all necessary requirements and maximize your benefits.

Step 1. Check eligibility and plan your travel:

Begin by confirming eligibility for LTA with the HR department. Understand the specific terms, such as the allowed frequency of claims and permissible travel periods.

Employees should plan their travel within the scope of these terms, focusing on only domestic travel if international trips are not covered.

Step 2. Undertake the travel:

Once the leave is approved, undertake the travel. Remember, to claim LTA, employee must travel within the country and follow the shortest possible route to your destination.

Keep it in mind that LTA covers only the actual travel costs such as air, rail, or bus fares.

Step 3. Gather required documentation:

During and after the travel, collect all necessary documents that verify travel expenses. These include tickets, boarding passes, and receipts.

Ensure these documents clearly show the dates of travel, the amount paid, and the mode of transportation, as these details are crucial for LTA claims.

Step 4. Submit your LTA claim:

Fill out the LTA claim form provided by the employer. Attach all collected documents as proof of travel.

Submit this form to your HR or accounts department, depending on your company’s policy, within the specified deadline.

Step 5. Verification and approval:

The employer will verify the details of the LTA claim, ensuring all provided documents match the LTA policy’s criteria.

Once verified and approved, the claimed amount will be processed and reimbursed, or adjusted against the taxable income, as per the Income Tax Act 1961 provisions.

By following these steps and ensuring the correct documentation, employees can smoothly claim leave travel allowance and enjoy the tax benefits it offers.

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Understanding and implementing LTA in the company's benefits package can significantly enhance employee satisfaction and retention, offering both financial and morale-boosting advantages.

By familiarizing yourself with the rules, eligibility criteria, and claiming process outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your organization and its employees make the most out of this valuable benefit. Whether it's improving work-life balance or providing tax-efficient travel opportunities, LTA can be a cornerstone of a more motivated and committed workforce.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes, unclaimed LTA can be carried forward to the first year of the next block period only. However, it must be claimed in the first year of the new block; otherwise, it will be forfeited.

  • Yes, employees can claim LTA even if they change jobs, as long as they fulfill the other conditions related to the allowance, such as undertaking the travel and providing necessary documentation within the stipulated time frames of their employment period in each job.

  • No, the employee must be part of the travel. LTA cannot be claimed for the travel expenses of family members if the employee themselves does not travel. The allowance is intended to cover the travel costs incurred by the employee along with their family.

Absence Management
Topic: Allowance
Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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