Understanding Long-Term Capital Gains Tax (LTCG)

Read more to understand LTCG and how it will help you make informed decisions and optimise your tax planning strategy.
3 mins
02 August 2023

 When it comes to investing in mutual funds and other assets, capital gains play a significant role in determining the returns on investments. Capital gains can be categorised as long-term or short-term based on the holding period of the asset. In this article, we will delve into the world of long-term capital gains tax (LTCG), exploring what it is, how it is calculated, the tax rate, and the exemptions available to investors. Understanding LTCG tax can help investors make informed investment decisions and manage their tax liabilities.

What is Long Term Capital Gains Tax?

Long Term Capital Gains Tax is a tax levied on the profits earned from the sale or transfer of certain long-term assets, such as stocks, real estate, mutual funds, or other investments. The tax is applicable only when these assets are held for a specific period, typically more than one year, before they are sold.

Here are some key points about Long Term Capital Gains Tax on Mutual Funds:

  • Holding Period: To qualify for long-term capital gains treatment, an investor must hold the asset for a minimum period of one year or more in case of equity oriented funds and three years or more in case of other than equity oriented funds . If the asset is sold before this holding period, the gains are considered short-term and are subject to a different tax rate.
  • Tax Rates: Equity oriented schemes are subject to Long-term capital gains tax at the rate of 10%* and other than equity-oriented schemes are subject to LTCG at the rates are 20%*.. * The rates mentioned above are exclusive of cess and surcharge if applicable.
  • Tax Benefits: Governments often provide lower tax rates on long-term gains to encourage long-term investment
  • Reporting: Taxpayers are required to report their capital gains on their income tax returns, specifying whether the gains are short-term or long-term.

How to calculate LTCG Tax?

  • The calculation of LTCG tax depends on the type of asset and the applicable tax rate.
  • For equity-oriented assets like unit of equity-oriented mutual funds and shares of listed companies, the long-term capital gains tax rate is 10% on gains exceeding Rs. 1,00,000. Gains up to Rs. 1,00,000 are exempt from tax.
  • For non-equity assets like debt mutual funds, real estate properties, and gold, the LTCG tax is 20% after indexation. Indexation helps adjust the purchase price of the asset for inflation, reducing the taxable gains.

What is long-term capital gain or real estate or property?

  • Real estate properties held for more than 24 months are considered long-term assets.
  • If a property is sold after holding it for this specified period, any gains made from the sale would be classified as long-term capital gains and will be taxed at 20% after indexation.

What are the exemptions on Long-Term Capital Gains Tax?

  • There are certain exemptions available to investors on long-term capital gains under various sections of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  • For example, Section 54 provides an exemption on LTCG tax if the gains from the sale of a residential house property are reinvested in another residential house property within the specified period.
  • Under Section 54EC, capital gains up to a maximum of Rs. 50 lakhs, made on the sale of a long-term asset, can be exempted if the proceeds are invested in certain specified bonds within 6 months.
  • Capital gains arising from the sale of equity shares or units of equity-oriented mutual funds on or after April 1, 2018, up to Rs. 1 lakh in a fiscal year is exempt from tax. Gains exceeding Rs. 1 lakh are taxed at a rate of 10%.

It is important to note that these exemptions have certain conditions and criteria that must be met to claim them.

How to save tax on Long-Term Capital Gains?

  • To save tax on long-term capital gains, investors can utilise various tax-saving investment instruments, like Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) or the National Pension System (NPS).
  • By investing in these tax-saving options, investors can claim deductions under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act and reduce their taxable income.

Long-term capital gains tax (LTCG) is an essential aspect of taxation for investors. Understanding the holding period of assets, the applicable tax rates, and the exemptions available can help investors optimise their tax liabilities and make informed investment decisions. By exploring various tax-saving options and staying updated with the latest tax regulations, investors can make the most of their long-term capital gains and work towards long-term wealth creation and financial goals.

As with any tax-related matters, seeking professional advice is advisable to ensure accurate tax planning and compliance with tax laws. Overall, being aware of the tax implications of investment decisions is a key element in sound financial planning.

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