Source: IRIS (02 January 2013)

Capital Asset: This is an Asset that is not easily sold in the regular course of business operations for cash. Examples include land, buildings, and machinery that cannot be quickly converted to cash.

Capital Asset is any Asset held by the Income Tax Assess but does not include:

> Jewellery, Art, or drawings.

> Any stock in trade held by a business in the course of its day to day operations.

> Agricultural land which is outside the radius of 8 km of municipal limits and has a population of less than 10000.

Capital Gain: Any appreciation in the value of an asset from its purchase price is the gain made. The gain is not realized until the asset is sold.

For eg, If you have invested Rs 1,00,000 in an equity mutual fund and it has appreciated by 10% after 1 year, the gain is said to be unrealized, until the asset is actually sold. Once, the fund is sold, the gains become realized and are subject to tax.

Capital Gain is of two types:

> Short term:

This is an asset that is sold before 36 months. However, the following assets if held for 12 months or less also come in the preview of short term capital gains.

a) Units of specified mutual funds.
b) Securities listed on a recognized stock exchange.
c) Units of Unit Trust of India.
d) Equity or preference shares held.

> Long term.

If an asset is sold or transferred after 36 months from the date of acquisition or transfer, or after 12 months, in case of the specified assets listed above, the gain is said to be Long term Capital Gains.

Computation of tax on Short Term and Long Term Capital Gains:

Tax Applicable:

For Short term Capital Gains made: The tax rate applicable is as per tax slab of the individual.

For Long Term Capital Gains made: The tax rate is the lower of 10% on the gain or 20% on the gain after considering indexed cost of acquisition(This option is applicable for assets listed above as securities) For property, the tax rate is only 20% on the gain with indexation benefits.
I will explain what is indexation, and how it benefits you, in just a bit..

For Short term Capital gains, the Sale consideration is reduced by the following:

a) Expenditure incurred in transfer of a capital asset.
b) Cost of Acquisition.
c) Cost of Improvement.

For eg, If an equity fund is purchased in June 2012 for Rs 1,00,000 and the same is sold in Janauary 2013 for Rs 105000, the gain is Rs 5000 and the period is 6 months, therefore, short term capital gains is applicable. If you have incurred a cost to acquire this mutual fund, like fees paid of say Rs 1,000,the computation  of tax is as under:

Sale of Mutual fund                          Rs  105000
Less: fees paid                                Rs     1000
Less: Cost of purchase                     Rs 100000 

Capital Gains                                   Rs    5000

The tax rate applicable here, as mentioned, is dependent on the tax slab of the individual. If the individual is in the highest tax slab, the tax applicable would be 30%+ surcharge.

Ignoring the surcharge calculation (since it is subject to frequent change), the tax paid on the above Rs 5,000 is Rs 1,500. Hence, the net gain after tax is Rs 3500.

For Long term Capital Gains, there is a concept of indexation, which needs to be understood first with inflation.

The value of a rupee today, is not the same as the value tomorrow. The prices of articles keep increasing every year and you need to pay more for every article over the years. This is due to inflation and the rising cost of articles and the subsequent decrease in purchasing power. As the cost of 1 liter of petrol has risen from Rs 20 in the early 1980’s to Rs 79 in 2012, you need to pay 300% more for the same quantity of one liter of petrol.

Therefore, just as you have incurred a higher cost on purchase of petrol, and the purchasing power of that item, has fallen, the government has given the benefit of paying lower capital gains tax by incorporating the effect of inflation on your cost.

Indexation, is used to counter the eroding effect of an asset over time, by using an index every year, which inflates the cost of acquisition of the asset by a factor called the Cost Inflation Index, which is published by the Government every year.

Below is the Cost Inflation Index for all the years.



 1981-1982  100
1982-1983   109
 1983-1984  116
 1984-1985  125
 1985-1986  133
 1986-1987  140
 1987-1988  150
 1988-1989  161
 1989-1990  172
 1990-1991  182
 1991-1992  199
 1992-1993  223
 1993-1994  244
 1994-1995  259
 1995-1996  281
 1996-1997  305
 1997-1998  331
 1998-1999  351
 1999-2000  389
 2000-2001  406
 2001-2002  426
 2002-2003  447
 2003-2004  463
 2004-2005  480
 2005-2006  497
 2006-2007  519
 2007-2008  551
 2008-2009  582
 2009-2010  632
 2010-2011  711
 2011-12  785
 2012-13  852


Now, let as look at Calculating the Capital Gains on Long term Capital Assets.

Therefore, just like short term capital gains calculation, the calculation for long term capital gains is arrived at taking the Sale Consideration and reducing by,
a) Expenditure used in the transfer of the capital asset.
b) Indexed Cost of Acquisition.
c) Indexed cost of improvement.

Therefore, to arrive at the indexed cost of acquisition of an asset for computing long term capital gains, following is the formula:

Sale consideration* Cost inflation index for the year of sale/ cost inflation index for the year of purchase.

Illustrating with an example here would be useful:

If for example, a property has been purchased for Rs 10,00,000 in June 2004 and is sold for Rs 20,00,000 in Dec 2009.

First, we need to compute whether the gain is short term or long term.

In this case, the asset (property) has been held for more than 3 years. (Dec 2009 – June 2004). The asset is sold after 5 years, hence it is sale of a long term capital asset.

Now to compute the capital gains tax applicable:

We cannot just take Sale Consideration ��’ Purchase cost. Since, this is a long term capital asset, (property) we have to calculate the indexed cost of acquisition.

*Indexed cost of Acquisition in the above example is : 1000000*632( CII for FY of Sale of Asset)/480( CII for FY of Purchase of Asset =  Rs 1316666.

In addition, say, there was an agent fee of 2% paid on sale of the asset. Since, this is the expenditure incurred on transfer of the asset, it can be reduced from the sale consideration, to reduce the applicable capital gains tax.

Therefore, using the formula to compute Long term capital Gains as mentioned above:

Sale Consideration                                                          Rs  20,00,000
Less Expense incurred on sale(agent fees)                        Rs      40,000
Less Indexed cost of Acquisition *                                    Rs   13,16,666
Total Capital Gains Applicable:                                         Rs     6,43,334

This amount has a tax of 20% on it.(Long term capital gains tax) = Rs 1,28,667.

To avoid this tax, there are options, under Sec 54, Sec 54B, Sec 54D, 54EC, 54 F, 54G, depending the type of property sold, where one can claim exemption. This further reduces, the incidence of capital gains tax payment.

Therefore, instead of paying tax on 10,00,000, the tax has to be paid only on Rs 6,43,334, because the indexation benefit has been used to increase the cost of the asset, and thereby reduce the capital gains.

Remember, we need to be first clear on the type of asset sold. If the asset was any of the listed  assets, that fall under the 12 months horizon like shares, mutual fund units, etc, then the option of tax would be 10% flat on the long term capital gains incurred or 20% after the indexation calculation is made, Whichever is lower.

In the above example, of property sale after 5 years, only 20% tax is applicable with indexation and the calculation is shown above.

In case, a property has been inherited, the same calculation would be applicable, however, two important points need to be considered in case of cost of acquisition and period for determining the type of capital gains.

The cost of acquisition would be the cost of acquisition incurred by the previous owner, before the property has been transferred and the period would be calculated from the date of transfer of asset from the previous owner to the current owner and the date of sale.

(Contributed by Dilshad Billimoria BBM, LUTCF CFPCM, Certified Financial Planner and Investment Advisor)