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Tax Corner - Mutual Funds Back
 
What tax benefits are available to those who invest in mutual funds?
Dividends declared by debt-oriented mutual funds (i.e. mutual funds with less than 65% of assets in equities), are tax-free in the hands of the investor. However, a dividend distribution tax (which varies for individual and corporate investors) is to be paid by the mutual fund on the dividends declared. Dividends declared by equity-oriented funds (i.e. mutual funds with more than 65% of assets in equities) are tax-free in the hands of investor. There is also no dividend distribution tax applicable on these funds. Diversified equity funds, sector funds, balanced funds (with more than 65% of net assets in equities) are examples of equity-oriented funds.
 
Taxation of dividends of mutual fund schemes
 

Category

Tax rates for

  

Individuals

Corporates

Liquid funds

25.75%

28.32%

Other debt funds

12.87%

22.66%

Equity funds

Nil

Nil

The amount invested in tax-saving funds (ELSS) is eligible for deduction under Section 80C, however the aggregate amount deductible under the said section cannot exceed Rs 100,000 (in a financial year).
Taxation of Dividends earned on Debt Funds
Tax on dividend declared by debt-oriented funds

  

Dividend Income

Dividend DistributionTax – Other than Liquid /Money Market Schemes

Dividend DistributionTax – Liquid /Money Market Schemes

2008-09

2009-10

2008-09

2009-10

2008-09

2009-10

Resident individual/HUF

Tax free

14.1625% (12.50% +
10% surcharge + 3% education cess)

12.875% (12.50% +
3% education cess)

28.325% (25% +
10% surcharge + 3% education cess)

25.75% (25% +
3% education cess)

Partnership firm/AOP/BOI

Tax free

22.66% (20% +
10% surcharge + 3% education cess)

20.60% (20% +
3% education cess)

28.325% (25% +
10% surcharge + 3% education cess)

25.75% (25% +
3% education cess)

Domestic company*

Tax free

22.66% (20% +
10% surcharge + 3% education cess)

22.66% (20% +
10% surcharge + 3% education cess)

28.325% (25% +
10% surcharge + 3% education cess)

28.325% (25% +
10% surcharge + 3% education cess)

NRI

Tax free

14.1625% (12.50% +
10% surcharge + 3% education cess)
>

12.875% (12.50% +
3% education cess)

28.325% (25% +
10% surcharge + 3% education cess)

25.75% (25% +
3% education cess)

* No surcharge will be applicable for Domestic Companies if the dividend received by them is less than Rs 1 Cr. "No Surcharge for Resident Indians, Partnership Firms and NRIs:"
Capital gains tax on debt-oriented funds

  

Short-term Capital Gains Tax

Long-term Capital Gains Tax

TDS

2007-08

2008-09

2007-08

2008-09

2007-08

2008-09

Resident individual/HUF

As per Income Tax slab

10% (20% with indexation)

Nil

Partnership firm/AOP/BOI

Domestic company

30%

NRI

As per Income Tax slab

STCG - 30% LTCG - 20% (after providing for indexation) + 10% surcharge + 3% cess

 

How are equity-oriented funds defined?
A mutual fund must have at least 65% of its net assets in equities/stocks to qualify as an equity-oriented mutual fund.
Do global equities qualify as equities while defining equity-oriented funds?
No, global equities do not qualify as equities while defining equity-oriented funds. Only investment in Indian equities qualify for this purpose. In other words, if an equity fund invests 100% of its net assets in global equities it will qualify as a debt fund according to the Indian Income Tax laws.
Do equity/balanced funds have to maintain a daily, minimum 65% equity allocation?
Not really, the equity allocation is calculated based on the weekly average net assets in equities. If this average is below 65%, the fund stands to forfeit its equity-oriented status.
Do balanced funds qualify as equity-oriented funds?
If balanced funds maintain a minimum (average) 65% equity allocation, they do qualify as equity-oriented funds.
Is a capital gain on sale/transfer of units of mutual fund liable to tax? If yes, at what rate?
Section 2(42A): Under Section 2(42A) of the Act, a unit of a mutual fund is treated as short-term capital asset if the same is held for less than 12 months. The units held for more than twelve months are treated as long-term capital asset.
 
Section 10(38): Under Section 10(38) of the Act, long-term capital gains arising from transfer of a unit of mutual fund is exempt from tax if the said transaction is undertaken after October 1, 2004 and the securities transaction tax is paid to the appropriate authority. This makes long-term capital gains on equity-oriented funds exempt from tax from assessment year 2005-06.
 
Short-term capital gains on equity-oriented funds are chargeable to tax @15% (plus education cess). However, such securities transaction tax will be allowed as rebate under Section 88E of the Act, if the transaction constitutes business income.
 
Short-term capital gains on debt-oriented funds are subject to tax at the tax bracket applicable (marginal tax rate) to the investor.
 
Long-term capital gains on debt-oriented funds are subject to tax @20% of capital gains after allowing indexation benefit, or at 10% flat without indexation benefit, whichever is less.
 
Section 112: Under Section 112 of the Act, capital gains, not covered by the exemption under Section 10(38), chargeable on transfer of long-term capital assets are subject to following rates of tax:
  • Resident Individual, HUF & Partnership Firms - 20% plus education cess.
  • Indian Companies - 20% (plus surcharge if applicable and education cess).
  • Foreign Companies - 20% (plus surcharge if applicable and education cess).
Capital gains will be computed after taking into account the cost of acquisition as adjusted by Cost Inflation Index, notified by the Central Government.
 
"Units" are included in the proviso to the sub-section (1) to Section 112 of the Act and hence, unit holders can opt for being taxed at 10% (plus surcharge if applicable and education cess) without the cost inflation index benefit or 20% (plus surcharge if applicable and education cess) with the cost inflation index benefit, whichever is beneficial.
 
Under Section 115AB of the Income Tax Act, 1961, long-term capital gains in respect of units, purchased in foreign currency by an overseas financial, held for a period of more than 12 months, will be chargeable at the rate of 10%. Such gains will be calculated without indexation of cost of acquisition. No surcharge is applicable for taxes under Section 115AB, in respect of corporate bodies.
 
Is it possible to offset the capital loss on a mutual fund investment after a dividend declaration?
This is a practice that is popularly referred to as 'dividend stripping'. The capital loss from a dividend declaration can be offset if you have remained invested in the mutual fund 3 months before and 9 months after the dividend declaration. If you haven't adhered to this guideline then you cannot offset the capital loss arising from a dividend declaration.
 
What is the tax implication of a bonus/rights issue on mutual fund units?
Under Section 55(2) (AA), bonus on mutual fund units has a zero (nil) cost of acquisition. The holding period is calculated from the date of allotment of mutual fund units. The net sales proceeds are treated as the capital gain. The period of holding of such issue is reckoned from the date of the allotment of such issue.
The cost of acquisition of the rights issue on mutual fund units is the amount actually paid for acquiring such right, according to Section 55(2) (AA) (iii). The holding period is reckoned from the date of allotment.
 
Where there is a transfer of these rights, the cost of acquisition of such rights is to be taken as 'Nil' according to Section 55(2) (AA) (ii). Sale price of such transferred rights will be taken as capital gain.
The period of holding in the hands of the transferor is computed from the date of offer, made by the company to the date of renouncement.
Can a person having dual citizenship invest in mutual funds?
Yes, a person having dual citizenship can invest in Indian mutual funds.
What are the tax benefits for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs)?
Section 115E: Under Section 115E of the Act, capital gains, chargeable on transfer of long-term capital assets of an Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) are subject to following rates of tax:

Investment income:

20%

Long term capital gains:

10%

Subject to education cess.
Section 10(23D): Under provisions of Section 10(23D) of the Act, any income received by the Mutual Fund is exempt from tax.
 
Section 115R: Under Section 115R, the Income distributed to a unit holder of a Mutual Fund shall be charged to following rates of tax to be payable by the Mutual Fund.

Amounts distributed to individual or HUF:

12.5% + 3% education cess = 12.875%

Amounts distributed to others:

20.0% + 10% surcharge* + 3% education cess = 22.66%

* Surcharge will be applicable if the income distributed is above Rs 1 Cr.
However, the above distribution tax will be exempted for open-ended equity-oriented funds (funds investing more than 65% in equity or equity related instruments).
Is wealth tax applicable to mutual fund investments?
No. Units, held under the scheme of the fund, are not treated as assets within the meaning of Section 2(EA) of the Wealth Tax Act, 1957 and are, therefore, not liable to Wealth-Tax.
Is gift tax applicable to mutual funds investments?
No. Units of the mutual fund may be given as a gift and no gift tax will be payable, either by the donor or the donee.
How can I avoid payment of capital gains on mutual fund investments?
The capital gain, which is not exempt from tax as explained above, can be invested in the specified asset, mentioned below, within 6 months of the sale.
Specified asset means any bond redeemable after 3 years:
  • Issued on or after April 1, 2000 by NHAI (National Highways Authority of India).
  • Issued on or after April 1, 2001 by the REC (Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd.).
Such capital gains can also be invested in any residential house property in accordance with Section 54F of the Act and one can claim exemption from capital gains

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