Income tax: What are the capital gains implications of selling a flat without taking possession?

  • What are the capital gains implications of selling a flat without taking possession?

Balwant Jain
Published12 Mar 2024, 12:41 PM IST
If you sell the flat within 24 months after taking possession, you will have earned short-term capital gains, which are chargeable to tax at the normal rates applicable to your total income, inclusive of the short-term gains.
If you sell the flat within 24 months after taking possession, you will have earned short-term capital gains, which are chargeable to tax at the normal rates applicable to your total income, inclusive of the short-term gains.

I booked a residential apartment in March 2021 and paid 50 lakh ( 18 lakh down payment + 38 lakh home loan), which is being sold for 95 lakh now. The apartment is now ready for possession. But instead of taking possession, I want to sell it. What happens if I sell it out now? Does it attract capital gains?

If you sell the property before taking possession what you are selling is the right to get a flat. The cost of acquisition of this right is the total cost of the flat you have paid and the date of its acquisition is the date of the allotment letter issued by the developer.

Since the right to own a flat cannot be equated with a flat, the holding period requirement for making it a long-term capital asset would be 36 months instead of 24 months applicable for land and buildings. In your case, since the period of 3 years is completed this month, the profits will be treated as long-term capital gains if you sell it after completing the full three years from the exact date of the allotment letter. 

Yes. The profits are taxable whether you sell the flat before taking possession or after possession. The long-term capital gains as index will become taxable at 20% plus applicable surcharge and cess. Please be careful while executing the sale deed because even if the holding period falls short of three years even by a single day, the profits would be treated as short-term capital gains and taxed at the slab rate applicable.

After the house is ready and you have taken possession, it becomes a different species. The clock for long-term or short-term starts once again starts from the date of your taking possession. If you sell the flat within 24 months after taking possession, you will have earned short-term capital gains, which are chargeable to tax at the normal rates applicable to your total income, inclusive of the short-term gains.

Please note that contrary views hold that the holding period in respect of the flat sold after taking possession should start from the date of the allotment letter and not from the date of possession based on certain decisions of Income Tax Appellate Tribunals. You can rely on such decisions but the chances of the matter getting litigated are higher.

Balwant Jain is a tax and investment expert and can be reached on jainbalwant@gmail.com and @jainbalwant on social media platform X

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First Published:12 Mar 2024, 12:41 PM IST
HomeMoneyQ&AIncome tax: What are the capital gains implications of selling a flat without taking possession?

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