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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Income tax rules on mutual funds profit explained

Income tax rules on mutual funds profit explained

The taxation rules for all schemes of mutual funds units whether bought from the fund house or as ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) bought and sold on stock exchanges are the same

Mutual funds: Any equity-oriented investment becomes long-term if held for more than 12 months.

Taxation of mutual funds has undergone a drastic change after the budget of 2023. As against two categories for tax purposes, now we have three categories. The taxation rules for all schemes of mutual funds units whether bought from the fund house or as ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) bought and sold on stock exchanges are the same.

Let us discuss the taxation rules in detail for all three categories of mutual funds.

Equity oriented schemes

The first and most prominent category is equity-oriented schemes. An equity-oriented mutual fund scheme predominantly invests in companies listed on the Indian exchanges. As per income tax laws, an equity mutual fund scheme is a scheme that invests at least 65% of the scheme’s assets in equities and equity-related instruments of companies listed in India. In the case of a Fund of Funds (FoF), the FoF has to invest a minimum of 90% of the scheme’s assets in a fund which too, in turn, invests 90% of its assets in Indian listed equities to qualify as an equity-oriented scheme.

Any equity-oriented investment becomes long-term if held for more than 12 months. The long-term capital gains are taxed at a flat rate of 10% after an initial 1 lakh taking together long-term capital gains of listed shares and equity-oriented schemes as well. The initial one lakh rupees of such long-term capital gains are taxed at zero rates, effectively making them tax-free. No indexation benefits are available while computing the taxable long-term capital gains for equity-oriented schemes.

For investments in equity schemes made prior to 1st February 2018, the NAV (Net Asset Value) of the scheme as of 31 st January 2018 is to be taken as the cost for computing long-term capital gains. You can not avail of any rebate under Section 87A against the tax liability in respect of tax on long-term capital gains which can be availed against tax liability in respect of any other income.

The profits made on equity-oriented schemes held for less than 12 months are treated as short-term capital gains and taxed at a flat rate of 15%. Taxpayers are not eligible to claim any deduction under Chapter VIA comprised of main deductions under Section 80C, 80CCD, 80D, 80G, 80 TTA, and 80TTB mainly against capital gains on equity-oriented schemes.

Schemes where investment in Indian equity does not exceed 35% of the corpus

This is a new category introduced and includes all the schemes where the investment in Indian companies does not exceed 35 %. It includes debt-centric mutual fund schemes, gold/silver schemes, schemes of foreign mutual funds as well as schemes of Indian mutual funds investing in shares of foreign companies either directly or indirectly through feeder funds. Irrespective of the holding period all the profits under this category of schemes are treated as short-term capital gains and taxed at the slab rate applicable to you.

Schemes where investment in Indian Equity exceeds 35% but does not exceed 65% of the corpus

All such schemes where the Indian equity investment exceeds 35% but does not exceed 65% of its corpus are covered under this category and the investments in these schemes become long-term if held for more than 36 months and taxed at a flat rate of 20% after applying indexation. The short-term capital gains under this category of schemes are treated like your regular income and taxed at the slab rate applicable to you.

All the investments made upto 31 st March 2023 in the equity schemes where equity investment does not exceed 65% of the corpus have been grandfathered and thus will be taxed like investments of this category.

Exemption and Rebates

You can claim exemption against long-term capital gains on mutual funds if you invest the sale proceeds to buy a residential house property within a prescribed time period and subject to compliance with certain conditions. No exemption is available in respect of short-term capital gains tax under the income tax laws.

In case your net taxable income (including one lakh of long-term capital gains on equity products on which no tax is payable) does not exceed Rs.5 lakhs and you opt for the old tax regime, you are eligible to claim a tax rebate of upto Rs. 12,500/- under Section 87A against all your tax liability except the long term capital gains on equity-oriented schemes and listed shares. However, in case you go for a new tax regime, you can avail of a tax rebate of up to 25,000/- provided your aggregate taxable income does not exceed 7 lakh. Even if it exceeds the threshold of 7 lakh, the tax payable will not exceed the amount of income that exceeds 7 lakh.

In the case of resident taxpayers, the taxpayer is entitled to set off any shortfall of regular income up to the basic exemption limit against any long-term capital gains of any nature and short-term capital gains on equity products whereas a non-resident has to pay full tax on such income.

Balwant Jain is a tax and investment expert and can be reached on @jainbalwant

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