Gold prices shot up today after the government in Budget 2019 proposed to increase import duty on gold and and other precious metals to 12.5%, making the yellow metal and jewellery expensive in the domestic market. India is one of the largest gold importers in the world, and the imports mainly take care of demand from the jewellery sector. Gold futures prices for August delivery on MCX shot up by over 2% to 34,931 after the Budget announcement.

Gold prices are on a uptrend this year. In India, capital gains on selling gold is taxed and is dependent on the form it was purchased. From physical forms like jewellery and coins and other forms like gold mutual fund, gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs), sovereign gold bonds (SGB) and digital gold, investors can take exposure to gold in different forms. Income tax on gains on your gains from gold is based on whether it is short term or long term. If the gold is being sold within three years from the date of purchase then it is considered as short-term. Gold sold after three years is considered as long term.

In case of short-term capital gains on sale of gold, it is added to your gross total income and taxed at the income tax rates applicable to your income slab.

Selling of physical gold

Long-terms gains are taxed 20.8% (including cess) with indexation benefits. Or in other words, the purchase price of gold is adjusted after factoring in inflation.

Tax on gains from gold MF, gold ETFs

Gold ETFs invest its corpus in physical gold, aiming to track the price of the metal passively. Gold mutual funds in turn invest in gold ETFs. So, if gold prices go up, value of gold ETF or fund goes up, and vice versa.

Gains from sale of gold ETFs or gold mutual funds are taxed similarly as that of the physical gold. Short-term capital gains on units held for less than 36 months is added to investor's income and taxed according to the applicable slab rate. Long-term capital gains on units held for more than 36 months are taxed 20.8% (including cess) with indexation benefits.

Watch | Budget 2019: Gold to get costlier, customs go up from 10% to 12.5%

Sovereign gold bonds

These are government securities denominated in grams of gold. Or in other words, they are substitutes for holding physical gold. Investors pay the issue price and the bonds are redeemed in cash on maturity. The bond is issued by Reserve Bank of India on behalf of the Government of India from time to time.

Sovereign gold bonds come with a maturity period of 8 years, with an exit option from the fifth year. Sovereign gold bonds are also traded on stock exchanges within a fortnight of issuance, offering an early exit option for investors.

Capital gains arising from redemption of sovereign gold bonds have been exempted from tax. Also, indexation benefit is provided to LTCG arising to any person on transfer of bonds.

Gold bonds pay interest at the rate of 2.50% per annum on the amount of initial investment. Interest is credited semi-annually to the bank account of the investor. The interest on gold bonds is taxable according to provisions of the Income Tax Act but TDS is not applicable.

Tax on digital gold

Many banks, fintech and brokerage companies, in partnership with MMTC, offer digital gold through their apps. Investors can invest very small amount of money in gold through this route. Income tax on digital form of gold is similar to what is applicable to the physical form of gold or gold ETFs or gold mutual funds.