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Capital Gains Tax on Property

Capital Gains Tax on Property for STCG and LTCG

Capital gains can be defined as profits or gains generated from the sale or transfer of any capital assets. These capital assets are further defined as any property – movable or immovable, tangible or intangible – which is legally owned by an individual.

A few examples of capital assets are residential properties, equity shares, equity-oriented funds, automobiles, land plots, building, gold, etc. Any profit generated out of the sale of these assets fall under the category of capital gains and are taxed under the income head “Capital Gains.”

In case your primary mode of income resides in selling and purchasing of capital assets, profits from the same will be considered under the head “Income from business or profession.”

Capital gain tax on the property is levied specifically on the monetary profit from sale or transfer of residential properties or lands by an individual who does not consider it a profession or such income is not his/her main domain of earning.

Long-Term Capital Gain and Short-Term Capital Gain

Capital assets are classified into two types based on their holding period by the seller – long-term capital assets and short-term capital assets.

Capital gains from the respective capital assets fall under that specific category of gains – long-term capital gain or short-term capital gain.

Any asset which has been held by an individual for 36 months or less before sale/transfer is considered as a short-term capital asset. In case of immovable properties, i.e. homes, the tenure to qualify as short-term capital asset is 24 months or less, provided the selling process takes place after 31st March 2017.

Any asset which crosses the threshold of 36 months or 24 months, depending on the object, is considered a long-term capital asset. If you sell a housing property after holding it for 24 months or more, profits from such transaction will be considered as long-term capital gains.

Capital gain tax on property is taxed differently across these two types.

The tax rate on long-term and short-term capital gains can be described as follows –

Conditions Type of gain Tax rate
If a property is sold within 24 months of acquiring it, after 31st March 2017. Short-term capital gain The gain will be added to the existing income of such individual and taxed as per the applicable tax slab.
If a property is sold after 24 months, post 31st March 2017 Long-term capital gain 20%

Calculation of Short-Term Capital Gain

To calculate a short-term capital gain, you should consider the following factors –

  • Consideration received, or full value consideration received in exchange for the sale/transfer of property.
  • The cost of acquiring the respective property.
  • The cost of any improvements or alterations or renovations made to the respective property.
  • Expenses pertinent to sale or transfer of the respective property.

Calculation of Long-Term Capital Gain

These are the following factors considered to calculate long-term capital gain –

  • Full consideration received upon the sale or transfer of property.
  • Indexed cost of acquiring the respective property.
  • Indexed cost of improvements or renovations or alterations made to the respective property.
  • Expenses in the course of executing the sale or transfer.
  • Tax exemptions.

In case of long-term capital gains, the cost of acquisition and cost of alteration is indexed to adjust against inflation. Cost indexation is done for the benefit of the assess concerning capital gain tax on sale of property, because otherwise the profit would be inflated incurring more tax. Such indexation number is also called Cost Inflation index (CII).

Suppose Mr. X sells a residential property for Rs. 1 Crore in March 2018. The property was acquired in April 2005 for Rs. 25 Lakh. Assuming no renovation was done on it, the indexed cost of that house in 2018 would be Rs. 58, 11, 970 resulting in a capital gain of Rs. 41, 88, 030.

Capital Gain Tax on Property: Exemptions

An individual can avail any of the four exemptions depending on the kind of reinvestment he/she does post receiving the amount of consideration from such long-term capital gain. The following sections under which tax exemptions would be available are – 54, 54B, 54F, 54EC.

  • Tax exemption under section 54

An individual needs to meet the following criteria before availing an exemption under this section –

  1. After Budget 2019, exemption on capital gain tax on property 2019 is allowed to individuals who have reinvested the capital gain in a maximum of two housing properties. If no such reinvestment takes place, then any exemption is not available. Before Budget 2019, an individual could only invest in maximum of one housing property.
  2. Only the amount of capital gain is allowed for reinvestment and not the entire sales consideration amount.
  3. The total return from the capital gain should not exceed Rs. 2 Crore.
  4. The investment should be made one year before the sale has taken place or two years after it.
  5. This exemption is available to an individual for only once.
  6. An individual can invest the capital gain in a construction project as well; however, such construction should be over within 3 years from the date of sale to avail exemption.
  7. Any exemption will be revoked if the new property is sold within 3 years of purchasing it.
  • Tax exemption under Section 54F

To avail exemption on capital gain tax on property in India, these following parameters should be considered –

  1. The respective capital gain must be from the sale of long-term capital assets other than a housing property.
  2. The entire amount received as consideration from sale of such assets must be reinvested in a maximum of two housing properties post Budget 2019.
  3. Any investment of this nature needs to occur before 1 year of sale or after 2 years.
  4. Investment can be made in a construction project as well, which needs to be completed within 3 years from the date of sale.

To avail this exemption under capital gain tax on property on the entire amount of capital gain, an individual needs to reinvest the whole amount received as consideration. In case he/she fails to achieve this, then exemption on capital gain is calculated on the basis of the amount invested. The following calculation takes place in that situation –

Exempted amount = (Capital Gains * cost of new house)/ net consideration amount

  • Tax exemption under Section 54EC

Exemption on capital gain tax on property is available to an individual upon meeting the following conditions –

  1. Capital gain generated from the sale of a housing property needs to be reinvested in specific bonds provided by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) or Rural Electrification Corporation (REC).
  2. The amount of investment cannot exceed Rs. 50 Lakh.
  3. The investment amount can be redeemed by an individual after 5 years from the date of sale. This revised time frame was introduced in the Financial Year 2018-19, before which the period was 3 years.
  4. The investment needs to take place before filing tax for that respective year or within six months from the date of sale.

In case the individual is unable to invest before filing tax for that year, he/she can deposit the amount in a PSU bank or any other bank listed under the Capital Gains Account Scheme (1988). In that case, exemption on capital gain tax on the sale of property will be considered as legitimate. However, such deposit needs to be converted to an investment within 2 years from the date of sale, failing which it will be considered a short-term capital gain in the year of period lapse.

  • Tax exemption under Section 54B

This exemption is only available on capital gains from a sale of land for an agricultural purpose outside of a rural area.

A rural area can be described as –

Location The population of municipal corporation or cantonment board
If a place is outside the local limit of a municipal corporation or cantonment board by 2 Km More than or equal to 10 thousand and less than 1 Lakh.
If a place is outside the local limit of the corporations by 6 Km  More than or equal to 1 Lakh and less than 10 Lakh
If a place is outside the local limit of the corporations by 8 Km More than or equal to 10 Lakh

The following conditions should be met to avail exemption on capital gain tax on property in India –

  1. The capital gain needs to be reinvested in a new agricultural land within 2 years from the date of sale.
  2. The exemption will be revoked if the newly purchased land is sold within 3 years of purchase.
  3. The investment needs to take place before tax filing in the same financial year to avail exemption.

In case there is a delay in investment, the individual can deposit the same amount in the bank for the exemptions as a long-term capital gain. The investment needs to take place within 2 years or else it will be accounted as short-term capital gain in the year of expiry of the same.

An individual depending on his/her use of capital gain can determine their capital gain tax on property. It will help them quantify the entire taxable amount for that year.

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