Capital Gains Tax in Real Estate: Analyzing LTCG and STCG in the Property Market

Capital Gains Tax


Capital gains are profits derived from the sale of ‘capital assets’ like houses, land, stocks, mutual funds, jewelry, trademarks, and more. These gains are treated as income, necessitating the payment of Capital Gains Tax in the year the asset is transferred. Notably, Capital Gains Tax doesn’t apply to inherited property, as it involves a transfer of ownership, not a sale. However, if the inherited property is later sold, Capital Gains Tax comes into play. This article delves into the nuances of various capital assets and the intricacies of calculating Capital Gains Tax.

Defining Capital Assets

A Capital Asset encompasses any property held by an individual, including land, buildings, jewelry, vehicles, trademarks, patents, leasehold rights, and machinery. Even certain legal rights fall under the umbrella of Capital Assets.

Exceptions to Capital Assets

Certain items are exempt from being classified as capital assets, such as:

  • Business inventory
  • Business consumables or raw materials
  • Personal items like clothes and furniture
  • Agricultural land in rural India
  • Specific government bonds (e.g., Gold Bonds of 1977, 1980, Special Bearer Bonds, National Defence Gold Bonds)

What Are the Types of Capital Assets?

  • Short Term Capital Assets (STCA): STCA is an asset held for a tenure of 36 months or less. In terms of Capital Gains Tax implications, short-term gains are taxed at a higher rate compared to long-term gains. For immobile properties like buildings, houses, or land, the tenure for classification as a short-term capital asset was reduced to 24 months in FY 2017-18. Selling such a property within this period will incur Short Term Capital Gains Tax on the income generated.
  • Long Term Capital Assets (LTCA): LTCA is an asset held for more than 36 months. From the perspective of Capital Gains Tax, long-term gains enjoy a lower tax rate and certain exemptions. Selling a long-term asset like property, which has been held for more than 36 months, will attract Long Term Capital Gains Tax, but at a potentially reduced rate depending on the applicable laws and regulations.

What qualifies as STCA and LTCA?

As outlined earlier, the distinction between STCA and LTCA is pivotal in determining the Capital Gains Tax liability. Short-term capital gains (STCG) and long-term capital gains (LTCG) are taxed differently, with LTCG usually attracting a more favorable tax treatment.

Investments qualifying as Short Term Capital Gains:

  • Property Sales: Selling a property (movable or immovable) before it completes 36 months of ownership results in a profit that will be subject to Short Term Capital Gains Tax.
  • Stocks and Shares: Shares sold within a year of purchase also fall under STCG and are taxed accordingly.

Investments qualifying as Long Term Capital Gains:

  • Sale of Property: Profits from selling property held for more than 36 months are subject to Long Term Capital Gains Tax, often at a lower rate.
  • Mutual Funds: Capital gains on mutual fund investments held for over a year are classified as LTCG.
  • Stocks: Long-term investments in stocks, typically held for more than a year, fall under the LTCG category.

Tax Chart on Sale of assets –

Asset Duration of asset Rate of tax
Immovable property like buildings, house • Short term: Less than 24 months
• Long-term: More than 24 months
• If short term then the Income tax slab rate
• If long-term, then 20.6% with
Movable property like jewellery, royalty, machinery • Short term: Less than 36 months
• Long-term: More than 36 months
• If short term then the Income tax slab rate
• If long-term, then 20.6% with indexation
Shares which are listed in the market • Short term: Less than 12 months
• Long-term: More than 12 months
• If short term then 15.45% 
• If long term, then it is exempted
Mutual funds (equity oriented) • Short term: Less than 12 months 
• Long-term: More than 12 months
• If short term then 15.45% 
• if long term, then it IS exempted
Mutual funds (debt oriented) • Short term: Less than 36 months 
• Long-term: More than 36 months
• If short term then the 
income tax slab rate 
• If long-term, then 20.6% with indexatio

How to Calculate Capital Gain Tax on Property?

Capital gains calculation for a property is a critical aspect of financial management, especially when it comes to understanding and applying Capital Gains Tax. Before diving into the formulas to calculate capital gains tax on property, let’s first clarify a few essential terms necessary for this calculation:

Full Value Consideration (Final Sale Price): This is the amount a seller receives in exchange for their capital asset. The full value consideration is the starting point for calculating the Capital Gains Tax.

Cost of Acquisition: The Cost of Acquisition is the value of the asset when the seller initially acquires it. This figure is pivotal in determining the Capital Gains Tax as it forms the basis of the gain or loss upon sale.

Cost of Improvement: This term refers to the expenses incurred by a seller in making changes or additions to the capital asset. These improvements can significantly impact the Capital Gains Tax, as they effectively increase the base cost of the asset.

Cost of Transfer: Cost of Transfer includes various expenses such as registry charges, brokerage charges, or any other expense made during the asset’s sale. These costs are deducted from the full value consideration to arrive at the actual gain for Capital Gains Tax purposes.

Indexed Cost of Acquisition: A crucial aspect of Capital Gains Tax calculation, this is calculated by applying the Cost Inflation Index (CII) to adjust the inflation values over the years. It helps in determining a more accurate gain by considering the time value of money.

Indexed Cost of Improvement: Similar to the Indexed Cost of Acquisition, this is calculated for the improvements made. It’s a critical factor in reducing the tax burden as it acknowledges the increased investment in the asset.

Difference between short term and long term capital gains –

Categories Short Term Capital Gain Long Term Capital Gain
Meaning Short Term Capital Gains are gained by investing in short term capital assets. Long Term Capital Gains are gained by investing in Long term capital assets.
Amount of Profit Attained The profit attained may be lower as the investors can hold on TO the assets for a short term. Long term capital gains are attained from assets held in the market for a longer duration.
Market Aspect These capital gains are me results of investments made with a short term market perspective, hence are quicker to attain. Long term capital gains are usually higher in amount as they come from assets invested for a long term.
Risk Involvement he amount of risk involved is low as the investment duration is short. Long term investments have a higher risk due to the lengthy waiting period.
Taxability 15 per cent of tax is applicable on short term capital gains. This does not include a surcharge. 20 per cent of tax is applicable on short term capital gains. However, it can be reduced to up to 10 per cent on meeting specific eligibility critena.



Formula for Calculation of Short Term Capital Gains

When dealing with short-term assets, understanding the capital gains tax implications is crucial. The formula to calculate short term capital gains is straightforward:

Short Term Capital Gain = Final Sale Price – (Cost of Acquisition + Home Improvement Cost + Cost of Transfer)

In this context, the capital gains tax is applicable based on the duration for which the asset was held. Short-term capital gains tax rates depend on your income tax bracket, highlighting the importance of accurate calculation.

Formula for Calculation of Long Term Capital Gains

Long term capital gains tax comes into play for assets held for a longer period. To calculate long term capital gains, the following formula is used:

Long-term capital gain = Final Sale Price – (indexed cost of acquisition + indexed cost of improvement + cost of transfer)

Here, ‘indexed cost of acquisition’ and ‘indexed cost of improvement’ account for inflation, which is a critical factor in determining the capital gains tax liability. The indexing helps in reducing the taxable amount of capital gains, thus affecting the capital gains tax due.

How to Use Capital Gains Calculator?

Capital gains calculators are invaluable tools for computing capital gains tax liabilities. To use these calculators effectively, you must input:

  • The sale price of the property
  • Purchase price of the property
  • Date, month, and year of the purchase
  • Date, month, and year of sale
  • Investment details if capital gains have been invested in shares, equity funds, debt funds, gold, fixed maturity plans, etc.

These calculators are designed to simplify the process of determining capital gains tax, considering various factors such as holding period, type of investment, and applicable rates.

To accurately calculate Capital Gains Tax in a financial year, you need to consider several critical factors. Capital Gains Tax, a vital component of your tax planning, applies to profits from the sale of certain types of investments. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Type of Investment: Capital Gains Tax varies depending on the investment type. This includes mutual fund investments, stocks, bonds, cash and cash equivalents, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), and Fixed Deposits. Each investment type has unique tax implications under the Capital Gains Tax regime.
  • Type of Gain: Capital Gains Tax is significantly influenced by whether the gain is short-term or long-term. Short-term capital gains are generally taxed at a higher rate compared to long-term gains.
  • Cost Inflation Index (CII): This index is crucial for calculating Capital Gains Tax, especially for long-term investments. It helps adjust the purchase price of an asset to reflect inflation, thereby impacting the taxable gain.
  • Calculation of Long-term Capital Gains Without Indexation: Some investments under Capital Gains Tax may not qualify for indexation benefits. In such cases, the gain is calculated based on the raw difference between the sale and purchase prices.
  • Long-term Capital Gains With Indexation: This method accounts for inflation and typically results in a lower taxable gain. Understanding how to apply the Cost Inflation Index is vital for accurate Capital Gains Tax calculation.
  • Sale and Purchase Price Difference: The fundamental basis of Capital Gains Tax is the difference between the sale and purchase prices of the property. This difference, termed as capital gain, is what the tax is levied on.
  • Time Gap Between Sale and Purchase: The duration between buying and selling an asset impacts whether the gain is classified as short-term or long-term for Capital Gains Tax purposes.
  • Purchased Index Cost: The indexed cost of purchase is a critical figure in calculating Capital Gains Tax, especially for long-term investments. It represents the adjusted cost basis of the asset, factoring in inflation over the years.

Cost Inflation Index and Its Impact on Capital Gains Tax

The Cost Inflation Index (CII) plays a pivotal role in the calculation of Capital Gains Tax for long-term investments. As inflation diminishes the value of money over time, the CII adjusts the purchase price of assets to reflect this change. This adjustment is crucial for Capital Gains Tax calculations as it often reduces the taxable amount by accounting for inflation. The Reserve Bank of India revises the CII annually, ensuring it reflects current economic conditions. Below is a table displaying the Cost Inflation Index from 2001-2002:

Financial Year Cost Inflation Index
2021.22 317
2020-21 301
2019-20 Ng
2018-19 280
2017-18 272
2016-17 264
2015-16 34
2014-15 240
2013-14 220
2012-13 200
2011-12 184
2010-11 167
2009-10 148
2008-09 137
2007-08 129
2006-07 122
2005-06 117
2004-05 113
2003-04 109
2002-03 105
2001-02 100

Any Deductions For Reducing Capital Gains Tax?

In the Union Budget 2023, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a significant update in capital gains tax, specifically concerning long-term capital gains. A new deduction limit of Rs 10 crore has been set for long-term capital gain tax. This deduction applies to reinvestments in residential properties, as outlined in Sections 54 and 54F of the Income Tax Act.

The changes in capital gains tax laws are a key focus for individuals dealing with assets. The Income Tax Act provides several avenues for an asset owner to reduce their capital gains tax. Let’s delve into the specifics:

  • Section 54F: This section offers a complete exemption from capital gains tax, provided the full amount received from the sale of a house or land is reinvested into constructing a new house. This exemption is a significant relief for taxpayers, as it encourages reinvestment in real estate, thus potentially lowering the capital gains tax liability. However, this section comes with certain terms and conditions that need to be met.
  • Section 54EC: Long-term capital gains tax can be significantly reduced if the proceeds from the sale of land are reinvested in capital gain bonds. This reinvestment should be made within six months of selling the property. Capital gain bonds, offering an annual interest rate of around 5-6%, are a safe investment option. They come with a five-year lock-in period and are rated AAA by credit rating agencies like CRISIL. This is an effective strategy for reducing capital gains tax liability while ensuring a safe investment.
  • Things to Remember:
  • Capital bonds, a tool for saving on capital gains tax, cannot be transferred or sold during their lock-in period.
  • These bonds are considered safe investments due to their high credit rating.
  • They are available through banks, with options to invest in organizations like NHAI or REC.
  • Capital Gains Deposit Scheme: To further reduce your capital gains tax, you can use the taxable amount for the purchase or construction of a house. This needs to be done before filing your income tax return. If the amount is not utilized, it should be deposited under the Capital Gains Accounts Scheme at a bank. This deposit offers temporary relief from capital gains tax and allows the capital to be parked safely for a period. Tax exemptions can be claimed on amounts parked in approved banks under the Capital Gains Accounts Scheme. However, if the amount is not used within three years, it will be treated as capital gains in the next financial year, and the respective capital gains tax will apply.

What is the Capital Gains Tax on Bonds?

Capital Gains Tax, a crucial aspect of financial planning, particularly comes into play when dealing with investments like bonds. Understanding the implications of Capital Gains Tax on such investments is vital for effective financial management. Under Section 54EC of the Income Tax (IT) Act, a unique feature caters to individuals who wish to invest in specific bonds, such as those issued by Rural Electrification Ltd and the National Highway Authority of India. The condition for availing this benefit is that the investment must be made within six months from the date of the property’s sale, a crucial timeline for those looking to optimize their Capital Gains Tax liabilities.

Importantly, the capital gains invested in these bonds cannot be redeemed before three years. This lock-in period is a critical aspect to consider for Capital Gains Tax planning. Meanwhile, these investments in capital gain bonds are not only secure but also yield a guaranteed interest, adding a layer of financial benefit. In terms of limits, a person can invest up to Rs. 50 Lakhs in capital gain bonds per financial year. It’s essential to note that this benefit applies exclusively to long-term capital bonds, a vital detail for anyone looking to minimize their Capital Gains Tax.

Case 1: Sale of House Property

When it comes to the sale of house property, several expenses can be deducted from the sale price, thereby affecting the Capital Gains Tax calculation. These deductible expenses include:

  • Brokerage or commission paid for obtaining the purchaser: This expense directly reduces the capital gain, thereby impacting the Capital Gains Tax.
  • Cost of Stamp paper: Incorporated into the sale’s total cost, this affects the capital gain calculation.
  • Travelling/transfer-related expenses: These are often overlooked but can significantly reduce the taxable capital gain.
  • Expenses related to the property inheritance place, such as expenses associated with the process of inheritance, will, and gaining succession certification. In some instances, this also encompasses executor costs.

All these expenses effectively reduce the taxable capital gain, thus impacting the Capital Gains Tax liability.

Case 2: The Sale of Shares

In the context of the sale of shares, understanding deductions related to Capital Gains Tax is crucial. Here are some key points:

  • Broker commission related to the sale of shares is deductible and directly impacts the calculation of Capital Gains Tax.
  • An important note is that STT, or the Securities Transaction Tax, does not qualify as a deductible expense under Capital Gains Tax rules. This is a critical point for investors in the share market to consider.

In both cases, whether selling house property or shares, it’s essential to understand the intricacies of Capital Gains Tax and its impact on financial outcomes. Properly accounting for allowable deductions can significantly affect the Capital Gains Tax owed, thereby influencing overall financial planning and management.


Capital Gains Tax Implications for NRI

The Capital Gains Tax is a significant consideration for Non-Resident Indians (NRI) who own property in India. Understanding the implications of Capital Gains Tax is crucial for NRIs to ensure compliance and make informed financial decisions. In India, capital gains on property are categorized into two types: short-term and long-term. Each category has distinct tax implications.

Short-Term Capital Gains Tax

Short-term capital gains occur when a property is held for less than two years. The tax rate on short-term capital gains is determined by the income tax slab rates applicable to the NRI, which depends on their total income taxable in India. This means that the Capital Gains Tax rate can vary for each individual, based on their overall income bracket.

Long-Term Capital Gains Tax

Conversely, if a property is held for more than two years, it falls under long-term capital gains. Long-term capital gains are taxed at a fixed rate of 20%. This uniform tax rate simplifies the calculation for long-term gains, making it easier for NRIs to understand their tax liabilities.

TDS on Capital Gains Tax

An important aspect of the Capital Gains Tax is the Tax Deducted at Source (TDS). When selling a property, the buyer is liable to deduct TDS on the capital gains. For long-term capital gains, the TDS rate is 20%. This rate increases to 30% under certain circumstances, adding a significant tax burden on the seller. NRIs need to be aware of these TDS implications to accurately calculate their net proceeds from the sale of property.

Exemptions from Capital Gains Tax

NRIs can avail themselves of exemptions from the Capital Gains Tax under specific conditions as outlined in Section 54 of the Income Tax Act. This exemption is applicable only for long-term capital gains. To qualify, an NRI must reinvest the capital gains in another property in India. This reinvestment must occur either one year before or two years after the sale of the original property. Furthermore, the NRI can choose to invest the capital gains in the construction of a property. However, the construction must be completed within three years to qualify for the exemption.


How to Exempt Yourself from Paying the Capital Gain Tax?

Capital Gains Tax can often be a significant financial burden for those selling assets, especially real estate. Fortunately, there are several strategies to exempt or reduce your Capital Gains Tax liability:

  • Investing in a New Property: A common method to avoid Capital Gains Tax is to reinvest the gains from the sale of a property into purchasing a new house. This exemption under Capital Gains Tax law mandates the acquisition of the new property either one year before or two years after the sale of the original asset. Remember, this Capital Gains Tax exemption applies only if you don’t own more than one residential house, other than the new one, on the date of the transaction.
  • Investment in Specified Bonds: To reduce your Capital Gains Tax liability, consider investing your long-term capital gains in certain bonds. Bonds issued by the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited and the National Highways Authority of India are popular choices. These investments under section 54EC help in Capital Gains Tax exemption but are subject to a cap of Rs. 50 lakhs per financial year.
  • Capital Gains Accounts Scheme (CGAS): If you’re not ready to reinvest immediately, the CGAS provides a temporary relief from Capital Gains Tax. Deposit your capital gains into this scheme at a public sector bank. This provision allows you a period of 2 to 3 years to reinvest in property, failing which the amount becomes subject to Capital Gains Tax.
  • Delayed Property Transfer: Sometimes, if there’s a delay in getting possession of the new property, the Capital Gains Tax can be waived. If the construction or transfer of the property is not completed within three years from the date of sale of the original asset, the Capital Gains Tax exemption remains valid.
  • Inclusion of Stamp Duty and Registration Charges: While calculating Capital Gains Tax, do not forget to include the stamp duty and registration charges. These are considered part of the cost of acquisition, thus reducing the capital gain and consequently the Capital Gains Tax.

TDS Implications

When dealing with transactions exceeding Rs. 50 lakh, it’s crucial to understand the implications of Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) on Capital Gains Tax. The buyer is required to deduct TDS at 1% of the property’s value. This step is essential to comply with Capital Gains Tax regulations and should be completed before settling the balance with the seller. Remember, failing to deduct TDS appropriately can lead to complications and penalties under the Capital Gains Tax framework.


How Can I Reduce Capital Gain Tax on My House?

Reducing capital gains tax on your house is achievable by living in it for over two years. This residency requirement is crucial in the realm of capital gains tax. Keeping receipts of all renovation or enhancement expenses is essential, as these can be added to the house’s cost basis, effectively reducing the taxable capital gains. This strategy is particularly effective in lowering capital gains tax liabilities, allowing homeowners to maximize their tax savings.

Capital Gains Tax on Agricultural Land

The capital gains tax treatment of agricultural land varies based on specific conditions. Understanding these conditions is key to effectively managing capital gains tax:

  • Exemption for Agricultural Activities: As per the Income Tax Act, capital gains tax is not levied on the sale of agricultural land used for agricultural activities. This exemption is significant for those involved in agricultural practices, as it potentially eliminates capital gains tax liability.
  • Taxation as Business and Profession: If agricultural land is bought and sold as a business activity, it falls under the ‘Business and Profession’ category for tax purposes. This distinction is crucial for those who engage in frequent buying and selling of agricultural land, as it affects their capital gains tax calculations.
  • Exemption for Compulsory Acquisition: Capital gains arising from government-acquired agricultural land for urbanization or other purposes are exempt under Section 10(37) of the Income Tax Act. This provision can significantly impact capital gains tax obligations in cases of compulsory acquisition.

Moreover, under Section 54B, exemptions can be claimed if the land sale does not fall under the above scenarios. This allows for flexibility and tax planning opportunities in managing capital gains from agricultural land sales.


Capital gains tax planning is an integral part of financial management. Noting capital losses in prior year’s tax returns is important for a complete tax picture. With diverse investment options, generating capital gains has become more accessible. Smart reinvestment strategies can further reduce capital gains tax, leading to substantial savings. This approach to managing capital gains tax can significantly impact one’s financial health and investment strategy.

Subscribe to my channel on YouTube to gain access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can elevate your understanding of Real Estate, project management concepts, & Construction.

Related Articles: Real Estate

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top