Since time immemorial, gifts have been looked upon as a symbol of love and affection. In fact, in some cases, they also signify social status.

Regardless, in many cases, gifts come handy for tax planning and avenues through which individuals can evade tax liability. While the role of gifts in tax planning is appreciated in more than one way, evading the same is strictly prohibited and draws a penalty. Consequently, to avoid such implications and make the most of tax planning, individuals should become aware of the aspects of tax on gifts in India.

What is Tax on Gifts in India?

The Indian government introduced the tax on gifts in April 1958, and the Gift Tax Act regulates it. The said Act was introduced to impose taxation on the exchange of gifts under requisite circumstances.

Essentially, gifts here represent anything in the form of cash, bank cheques, demand drafts and other valuables. According to 2017’s amended law, any gift received by an individual or individuals is now taxed at the hand of the receiver as ‘Income from other sources’. Notably, such gifts are taxed at regular rates.

Previously, the Gift Tax Act was eliminated in 1998; however, it was reintroduced again and included under the Income Tax Provisions in 2004.

Provisions on Taxation on Gifts 

This table below offers a glimpse of the gifts that come under the purview of gift tax in India 2021.

Type of gift Threshold  Taxable limit
Money received without any consideration. Gifts worth more than Rs. 50,000. The entire amount in cash received as a gift.
All immovable property assets like – land and building without any consideration. Stamp duty value that is more than Rs. 50,000. The stamp duty of the property.
Immovable property with inadequate consideration. Stamp duty value is more than the consideration by Rs. 50,000. Stamp duty value without consideration.
Gifts like valuable jewellery, shares, painting and other things that are not necessarily immovable property and without consideration. When the fair market value is more than Rs. 50,000. The fair market value of such property.
Properties other than immovable assets for consideration. When the fair market value exceeds consideration by at least Rs. 50,000. The fair market value other than consideration.

Example: Suppose the stamp duty is of Rs. 200000 and the consideration is of Rs. 75000. In such a case, the taxable amount will be stamp duty minus the consideration value, i.e. Rs. 1.25 lakhs.

One must remember that there are certain exceptions in tax on gifts in India. To make the most of such a provision, one needs to find out more about it in detail.

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Taxation on Gifts – Exemption

This table below highlights gift tax rules in India.

Category of recipient or Donee Category of Donor Occasion in Question
  • Individual

While there is no tax on gifts, income generated from some gifts given to relatives is taxable for the donee.

For instance, clubbing provisions or deemed owner in case of a housing property often comes under this purview, among others.

  • Relatives
Not applicable
Any individual Individual While contemplating the death of the payer or donor.
Trust that was created to extend benefits to relatives of the individual. Individual Not applicable.
Any individual Any individual Through a will or in case of an inheritance.
Individual Any individual Wedding ceremony
Any person Any trust, fund, institution or foundation as mentioned in Section 10(23C). Not applicable
Any person Local authorities like the Cantonment Board, Panchayat, Municipality, etc. Not applicable
Members of HUFs Hindu United Families Due to the distribution of capital assets arising from the partial or total partition of a HUF.
Entities mentioned in Section 10(23C) (iv) (v) (vi) and (via). Any individual Not applicable
Any individual Religious or charitable trusts that are registered under 12A or section 12AA. Not applicable.

Nonetheless, it will come in handy if individuals become more adept with the exemptions of gift tax like – gift tax exemption relatives in Indiaor occasion-specific taxation to streamline the same better. Having an idea about it may also prove useful and help them save on taxes within the provision of ITA.

Tax Saving Through Gifts

Take a look at these pointers below to find out how one can save taxes through gifts.

Like discussed, in a situation where the gift donor and receiver are not related to one another, the maximum amount they can transfer is Rs. 50000. Any amount beyond it makes the entire sum taxable as per the receiver’s tax slab.

However, you can save on taxes through clubbing. Regardless, one must note that tax benefits can be availed by gifting parents, children or even parents-in-law. Ideally, when a gift is given to such individuals, the doner’s taxable income remains the same, but the interest the receivers accrue by investing the received gift money is treated as the receiver’s income. So, such an income does not increase your tax burden or requires to include it in your tax filings.

The fact that tax planning through gifts in India is rampant puts it directly under the scrutiny of the income tax department. It is especially bothersome when the quantum involved is quite substantial. Ideally, in such a situation, individuals who are involved with the give and take of expensive gifts are recommended to maintain proper documents to establish the genuineness of the receipt. Subsequently, it will come handy to justify the source of funds as and when required under the purview of tax on gifts in India.