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Exploring Long-Term Capital Gains Tax (LTCG): What It Is & How It Works?


Long Term Capital Gains Tax in India

Capital gains tax is levied when an individual earns a profit by selling capital assets such as residential plots, vehicles, stocks, bonds, and collectibles like artwork. In India, capital gains tax is categorized into two types: Short-Term Capital Gains Tax (STCG) and Long-Term Capital Gains Tax (LTCG). Transactions involving these assets are taxable under the Income Tax Act of India, along with any applicable cess and surcharges.



Types of Assets Subject to LTCG Tax

Capital gains tax applies to both movable and immovable assets, including residential properties, vacant plots, shares (both equity and listed), debentures, units of Equity-Oriented Mutual Funds, Government Securities, UTI, Zero-Coupon Bonds, etc.


The classification into short-term or long-term depends on the holding period of the asset. For most assets, if they are held for over 36 months, they are considered long-term. However, for listed equities and certain other financial instruments, the threshold is 12 months.



Calculation of LTCG Tax

The LTCG tax is calculated on the profit gained from selling an asset held for longer than the specified period. The steps involved in calculating LTCG tax are:

  1. Calculate the Asset's Sell Value.

  2. Calculate the Cost of Acquisition.

  3. Calculate the Indexed Cost of Acquisition.

  4. Calculate the LTCG.

  5. Calculate the Tax.

The LTCG tax rate depends on the type of asset and the holding period. For equities, mutual funds, and stocks, the tax is 10% on profits exceeding Rs. 1 lakh in a fiscal year. For other assets like real estate, and gold, the tax rate is 20% with the benefit of indexation.



Example Calculation

If you sold equity mutual funds for Rs. 5 lakhs after holding them for three years, and the indexed cost of acquisition is Rs. 3 lakhs, your LTCG would be Rs. 2 lakhs. The tax would be 10% of the amount exceeding Rs. 1 lakh, which in this case is Rs. 10,000.



Tax Rates on Long-Term Capital Gains

The tax rate on LTCG depends on the type of asset:

  1. Equity Mutual Funds, Stocks: 10%

  2. Gold, Miscellaneous Assets, Land, Flats, Real Estate: 20%

Special cases where a 10% tax rate applies include gains from the sale of listed securities exceeding Rs. 1 lakh, as per Section 112A of the Income Tax Act, and returns from selling securities listed on a recognized stock exchange in India, zero-coupon bonds, and mutual funds or UTI sold on or before 10th July 2014.



Exemptions and Deductions

Several exemptions and deductions can reduce the LTCG tax liability:

  1. Section 54 : Exempts LTCG from selling a built-up house if the capital gain is used to purchase or construct a new residential property within specified timeframes.

  2. Section 54F : Applies to LTCG from the sale of any capital asset other than a residential property, provided the net sale consideration is used to purchase or build a house.

  3. Section 54EC : Allows investment in bonds issued by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (RECL) to save on LTCG tax.


Saving Tax on Long-Term Capital Gains
  1. Investing in Residential Property : Sections 54 and 54F provide exemptions if the capital gains are invested in a new residential property.

  2. Section 54 : Applicable when selling a built-up house and investing in another residential property within a specified period.

  3. Section 54F : Applicable when selling any other capital asset and investing the total net sale consideration in a new house.

  4. Investing in Bonds - Section 54EC : Allows exemption by investing in specified bonds, like those issued by NHAI and RECL.

  5. Capital Gain Account Scheme : This scheme allows an investor to enjoy tax exemptions without purchasing a residential property immediately. Funds withdrawn from this account must be used within three years to purchase houses and plots, or the amount will be taxed as LTCG.


Adjusting Basic Exemption Limit

A resident individual or Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) can adjust the basic exemption limit against long-term capital gains. This is done after adjusting other income first. The basic exemption limit varies by age and residential status. For instance, individuals below 60 years have an exemption limit of Rs. 2,50,000, while those 60 to 80 years old have a limit of Rs. 3,00,000.



Conclusion

Understanding the nuances of Long-Term Capital Gains Tax is crucial for effective tax planning and optimizing returns on investments. By leveraging exemptions and strategically planning investments, taxpayers can significantly reduce their tax liability and maximize their gains.

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