Q: Which debts can be deducted from my Zakat calculation?
A: Certain debts can be deducted from one’s value of assets in a Zakat calculation.
Debts payable in full within 12 months
Incurred expenses to be settled in full within 12 lunar months can be deducted from one’s Zakat calculation.
All arrears and overdue payments can be deducted from one’s Zakat calculation.
Personal loans from relatives and friends
The amount you intend to repay in the next 12 months.
12 months of Bank loans
The capital repayment due for the forthcoming lunar year from a long-term bank loan can be deducted. Any interest element is prohibited and cannot be deducted.
With regards to debt deductions, there is permissibility cited by scholars to deduct one year’s worth of repayments. However, this deduction should only be made if paying Zakat will impact your ability to repay the debt. If the Zakat payment does not impact your ability to repay your debt, we encourage that the deduction is not made or at most, deduct one month’s debt payables. The reason for this is that the philosophy of deducting debts was based on Zakat payments affecting your ability to repay the debt and in turn, put you in harms way. When a person is not in harms way at all by paying Zakat despite having debt, then the debt ought not to be deducted.
Q: If I have a long-term debt for a number of years, is there any portion that I can deduct from my Zakat calculation?
A: If the debt is scheduled to be repaid over a number of years, on the Zakat anniversary, one may deduct one year’s worth of instalment repayments.
For instance if you have a debt of £10,000 with an annual instalment repayment of £1,000 over 10 years, that repayment can be deducted from your zakatable assets at the anniversary date. Please note this is assuming there is no haraam clauses (interest payment) in the loan contract. The interest element will not be deductible.
Q: Why are liabilities deductible?
A: Not all liabilities are deductible, only certain debts are deductible. Worship has not been enjoined to bring difficulty to man, rather, worship is there to accelerate man to Allah whilst considering his needs, circumstances and life. Thus, Ṣalāh has only been enjoined five times a day with most prayers in the evening when a person is free from the chores of the day. Ḥajj is only obligatory if a person can safely reach Makkah and bear all the costs. Fasting has been enjoined only for the day with strong encouragement in the Sunnah to eat right up to the break of dawn and to break the fast immediately upon sunset. In the same manner, a person who has wealth can first deduct his liabilities and debts from his total before determining how much wealth he must pay Zakat upon.
One of the reasons why Zakat is not due on life essentials such as food, shelter and clothes is that these items ward off harm from oneself. They are essentials to survive and they preserve life. The repayment of debt is also considered an essential of life; repayment of debts protect a person from punitive measures and legal action. Therefore, Zakat is not due on immediate debts just as Zakat is not due on other life essentials.
Q: Is a council tax bill deductible?
A: If the tax bill has been incurred and is payable within the next 12 months, one may deduct the outstanding amount due. However, we encourage that only one month’s repayment be deducted.
Q: I am just wondering under the deductible liabilities, what kind of bills fall in to this category? Like water and electricity? what about car insurance and car tax etc
A: Anything which became outstanding prior to your Zakat day which you haven’t paid yet. And any bills that is due to be paid in the same month of your Zakat day e.g. if your zakat day is on the 15th and you have a bill that will be debited from your account on the 25th.
Q: I have children from a previous marriage and I pay a set monthly child maintenance for them. Is it permissible for me to deduct the next 12 months payments amount from the Zakat liabilities when doing my Zakat calculations?
A: Child maintenance can be a requirement of shariah or a requirement of the law of the country.
If a person is required by shariah to provide child maintenance, then there are two possible scenarios:
1) From a legal perspective (i.e. decision made by the court) one is also required to pay: In this case, he can only deduct payments which have fallen in arrears and the current monthly payment which is due. But he cannot deduct future monthly payments as they are not demandable yet.
2) From a legal perspective he is not required to pay but he has come into an agreement with his partner to pay the maintenance: No amount can be deducted unless the current guardian of the child had to buy necessary items on credit for which the father is now responsible to repay.
If a person is not required by shariah to provide with child maintenance:
3) From a legal perspective he is required to pay: The same as point number 1 will be applicable.
4) From a legal perspective he is not required to pay but he has come into a friendly agreement to pay for maintenance: In this case he will not be able to deduct anything; including the cost of items bought on credit by the current guardian of the child.
Please approach your local scholar to find out whether you are required by shariah to provide for child maintenance.
Reviewed on 29/11/2021