What are Capital Gains?
Capital gains arise when you sell capital asset for an amount that is more than what you paid for it. Capital assets are any investment products like mutual funds, stocks or any real estate product like land, house etc. An increase in the value of any of these when you sell them is termed as capital gain. Similarly, a capital loss is suffered in case there is a decrease in the value of an asset with respect to its purchase price.
A realized capital gain occurs only when you actually sell the asset at a higher price than its original purchase price.
Types of Capital Gains:
Capital gains can broadly be classified into two types:
- Long-Term Capital Gains:Depending upon the type of asset, if it is held for more than 36 months it is termed as long-term capital asset and the gain on selling it is termed as long-term capital gains. For mutual funds and equities, this period is 12 months.
- Short-Term Capital Gains: Any asset that is sold within 36 months of purchasing it, is termed as short-term asset and the gain on selling the same is termed as short-term capital gain.
Tax on Capital Gains:
Calculation of tax is dependent upon the type of capital gain.
- Calculation of tax on short-term capital gains is simpler than that on long-term gains. For short-term gains, the gain is added to the total income and then the income tax is calculated based on the tax bracket that you fall in.
- Calculation of tax on long-term capital gains is a slightly trickier business. Since long-term capital assets are held for longer periods, inflation also factors in while computing tax on long-term capital gains.
Cost Inflation Index (CII):
Cost inflation Index is a term that comes into play when we talk about long-term capital gains. This index is fixed and is declared every year by the government. For calculating capital gains on long-term assets, indexation is used.
What is indexation?
Indexation is the process of adjusting prices based on a standard index so as to factor in the inflation rate also while calculating profits earned on sale of assets. Indexation is important because prices generally do not remain flat and tend to vary with time; hence, computing profits based on the original price of an asset is not an accurate measure of profit. Indexation takes into account inflation too and gives us a more reasonable figure for long-term capital gains.
Example of Taxation On Long-Term Capital Gains (Real Estate):
Mr. Mishra bought a plot of land for Rs.10,00,000 in the year 2005. After 10 years had elapsed, in January 2015, he sold off his land for Rs.30,00,000.
Cost Inflation Index, CII= Index for financial year 2014-15/Index for financial year 2005-2006 = 1024/480 = 2.13
Indexed cost of purchase = CII x Purchase Price = 2.13 x 10,00,000 = 21,30,000
Long-term capital gain = Selling Price – Indexed cost = 30,00,000 – 21,30,000 = Rs.8,70,000
Tax on capital gain = 20% of 8,70,000 = 1,74,000
Tax on capital gains without Indexation (for stocks and mutual funds):
There is an option of not going the complicated route of indexation and directly computing capital gain tax. In this case, only 10% of the non-indexed capital gain is charged as tax. Individuals are free to choose to use indexation and pay 20% tax or ignore indexation and pay 10% on their capital gains.
Quick Tip: In case the asset (mutual fund, stocks) is held for a very long time and its value has multiplied manifold, chances are inflation wouldn’t affect profits drastically and as such it would be beneficial to pay 10% tax on the non-indexed gain instead of using indexation and paying 20%.
Tax Exemptions On Capital Gains
Government provides a number of exemptions which can be claimed on capital profits made. Here is a list of all the exemptions that can be claimed with respect to gains from capital assets.
- Section 54 of the Income Tax Act entitles a person to tax exemption on profit earned if that entire profit amount is used to buy another house. The seller can buy a new house within 2 years from the date of sale of his previous property or construct a new house within 3 years from the date of sale.
- Section 54 EC entitles an individual for tax exemption if the entire capital profit is invested in bonds issued by NHAI that is National Highway Authority of India or REC which is Rural Electrification Corporation. There is a limit to exemption under 54 EC and is Rs.50 lakh.
- In case you can’t find the right property to buy and you are unable to come up with a concrete plan in 2-3 years, you still can save tax on the capital profit earned. This can be achieved by investing gains in the Capital Gains Accounts Scheme (CGAS) in any public sector bank. This amount can then be claimed for tax exemption. However, you are required to invest this money within the period stated by the bank else the deposit is treated as capital gain and tax is deducted on it.
- In case you sell an agricultural land which is not within the limits of a civic body then tax is not levied on capital gain arising out of it.
- Capital gains is not applicable to sale of property if the entire amount is invested to set up a small scale or a medium scale industry. However, to avail tax exemption, the tools and machinery for manufacturing should be bought within 6 months from date of sale.
For tax computations, capital losses can be used to offset the effect of tax on capital gains. However, long-term capital losses can be set off against long-term gains only. Short-term capital losses can be set off against short-term as well as long-term capital gains.
Quick Tip: Long-term capital losses can be carried forward to a maximum of 8 years and set off against long-term capital gains.
News about Capital Gains
FIIs to get expert team to look into Capital Gains Tax
The waiver that foreign investors enjoyed for routing their investment through Mauritius has been lifted and as such there are a lot of modalities involved in the implementation of this change. The government is therefore in the process of setting up an expert committee which will look into this and solve issues that these foreign investors might face.
This committee will help in avoiding any potential confusion that might arise out of this sudden change in the tax regime. From April 2017, capital gain benefits offered to foreign companies who route their investment through Mauritius will be lifted. This will be rolled out as an amendment in the current India -Mauritius tax treaty and will be implemented as General Anti-Avoidance Rule or GAAR.
25th May 2016