Rajandran R Founder of Marketcalls and Co-Founder Algomojo. Full-Time Derivative Trader. Expert in Designing Trading Systems (Amibroker, Ninjatrader, Metatrader, Python, Pinescript). Trading the markets since 2006. Mentoring Traders on Trading System Designing, Market Profile, Orderflow and Trade Automation.

Taxation – Capital Gains Tax – Important to Understand

2 min read

A capital gain is income derived from the sale of an investment. A capital investment can be a home, a farm, a ranch, a family business, or a work of art, for instance. In most years slightly less than half of taxable capital gains are realized on the sale of corporate stock. The capital gain is the difference between the money received from selling the asset and the price paid for it.

"Capital gains" tax is really a misnomer. It would be more appropriate to call it the "capital formation" tax. It is a tax penalty imposed on productivity, investment, and capital accumulation.

The capital gains tax is different from almost all other forms of taxation in that it is a voluntary tax. Since the tax is paid only when an asset is sold, taxpayers can legally avoid payment by holding on to their assets–a phenomenon known as the "lock-in effect."

There are many unfairnesses imbedded in the current tax treatment of capital gains. One is that capital gains are not indexed for inflation: the seller pays tax not only on the real gain in purchasing power but also on the illusory gain attributable to inflation. The inflation penalty is one reason that, historically, capital gains have been taxed at lower rates than ordinary income. In fact, "most capital gains were not gains of real purchasing power at all, but simply represented the maintenance of principal in an inflationary world."

 

  Short-term Capital gains tax Long-term capital gains tax
Sale transactions of securities which attracts STT:- 10% NIL
Sale transaction of securities not attracting STT:-    
Individuals (resident and non-residents) Progressive slab rates 20% with indexation;

10% without indexation (for units/ zero coupon bonds)

Partnerships (resident and non-resident) 30%
Individuals (resident and non-residents) 30%
Overseas financial organisations specified in section 115AB 40% (corporate)
30% (non-corporate)
10%
FIIs 30% 10%
Other Foreign companies 40% 20% with indexation;

10% without indexation (for units/ zero coupon bonds)

Local authority 30%
Co-operative society Progressive slab rates

 

Another unfairness of the tax is that individuals are permitted to deduct only a portion of the capital losses that they incur, whereas they must pay taxes on all of the gains. That introduces an unfriendly bias in the tax code against risk taking. When taxpayers undertake risky investments, the government taxes fully any gain that they realize if the investment has a positive return. But the government allows only partial tax deduction if the venture goes sour and results in a loss.

There is one other large inequity of the capital gains tax. It represents a form of double taxation on capital formation. This is how economists Victor Canto and Harvey Hirschorn explain the situation:

A government can choose to tax either the value of an asset or its yield, but it should not tax both. Capital gains are literally the appreciation in the value of an existing asset. Any appreciation reflects merely an increase in the after-tax rateof return on the asset. The taxes implicit in the asset's after-tax earnings are already fully reflected in the asset's price or change in price. Any additional tax is strictly double taxation.

Take, for example, the capital gains tax paid on a pharmaceutical stock. The value of that stock is based on the discounted present value of all of the future proceeds of the company. If the company is expected to earn Rs.100,000 a year for the next 20 years, the sales price of the stock will reflect those returns. The "gain" that the seller realizes from the sale of the stock will reflect those future returns and thus the seller will pay capital gains tax on the future stream of income. But the company's future Rs.100,000 annual returns will also be taxed when they are earned. So the Rs.100,000 in profits is taxed twice–when the owners sell their shares of stock and when the company actually earns the income. That is why many tax analysts argue that the most equitable rate of tax on capital gains is zero.

 

Rajandran R Founder of Marketcalls and Co-Founder Algomojo. Full-Time Derivative Trader. Expert in Designing Trading Systems (Amibroker, Ninjatrader, Metatrader, Python, Pinescript). Trading the markets since 2006. Mentoring Traders on Trading System Designing, Market Profile, Orderflow and Trade Automation.

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