Thursday, 17 December 2015

TAX EXEMPTIONS


Tax Exemptions Section 54
This section stipulates that if NRI sells a residential property after three years from the date of purchase and reinvest the proceeds into another residential property within two years from the date of sale, the profit generated is exempt to the extent of the cost of new property. To illustrate - if the capital gains is Rs. 10 lakh and the new property costs Rs. 8 lakh, the remaining Rs. 2 lakh are treated as long term capital gains. The sold residential property may be either have been self-occupied property or given on rent. The new property must be held for at least three years. NRIs cannot invest the proceeds on the sale of a property in India in a foreign property and still avail the benefit of Section 54. However, some recent hearings with the appellate authorities have held that exemption can be claimed under Section 54 even if the new house is purchased outside India. However, this is not explicitly specified clearly under the law, and it is advisable for an NRI to consult a tax expert before making any investment decisions outside India to avail of tax benefits under Section 54.

Section 54EC- This section of the Income Tax Act states that if an NRI sells a long term asset (in this case, a residential property) after three years from the date of purchase and invests the amount of capital gains in bonds of NHAI and REC within six months of the date of sale, he or she will be exempt from capital gains tax. The bonds will remain locked in for a period of three years. Repatriation General permission is available to NRIs and PIOs to repatriate the sale proceeds of property inherited from an Indian resident, subject to certain conditions. If those conditions are fulfilled, the NRI need not seek the RBI's permission. However, if the NRI has inherited the property from a person residing outside India, he or she must seek specific permission from the RBI. The conditions for repatriation of such funds are not really complicated - the amount per financial year (April-March) should not exceed USD 1 million, and should be done through authorized dealers. NRIs must provide documentary evidence with regard to their inheritance of the property, and a certificate from a chartered accountant in the specified format.


What NRIs must pay attention to is the income tax implications in their country of residence. Many countries tax their residents on their income regardless of where it originates from, while others provide partial or total exemption on capital gains arising on sale of a residential house if certain conditions are met. The most important point to ponder is the income tax liability in the country of residence on the amount of gain, and whether claiming exemption under Sections 54/54F/54EC is really worth it. The NRI may, in fact, be better off claiming only partial or no tax exemption on the capital gains in India.

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