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What is Wealth Tax in India?

What is Wealth Tax in India?

Wealth Tax in India | Wealth Tax Meaning
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Every individual who earns income in some or other way, be it salary, income from property, business or profession, or from investments, is liable to pay the income tax. The Government of India levies Income Tax on your income during the previous financial year if it falls under the income tax slab rates.

Wealth tax is a direct tax that is applied to your standing wealth if it exceeded the specified wealth threshold.

Wealth Tax Meaning

Wealth tax was a charge levied on the book or the market value of the personal assets of rich individuals. This was also referred to as capital tax or equity tax. The Government used to charge the wealth tax only on the richer sections of the society.  Wealth tax in India was governed by the Wealth Tax Act, 1957.

Significance of Wealth Tax in India

As discussed above, the wealth tax was imposed on the richer section of society. The objective of the wealth tax was to maintain parity amongst the Indian taxpayers and to reduce the gap in income between the rich and poor.

Discontinuation of Wealth Tax in India

The wealth-tax Act 1957 has been ruled out with effect from 1st April 2016. Thus, starting the financial year 2016-17, taxpayers would not have to worry about paying tax on their wealth.

Who were Liable to Pay Wealth Tax?

Every individual whose net wealth was subject to tax had to pay the wealth tax in India.

Liability of wealth tax applied to the following Indian residents:

1. Individual taxpayers
2. HUFs
3. companies

The general rule was that all the global assets of the resident Indians were subject to wealth tax.

Additionally, the Non-Resident Indians who held their assets in India were also subject to the wealth tax on their assets held in India.

These taxpayers also had to file the return of their net wealth. The due date for this return used to be the same as that of Income-tax return filing.

Threshold for Wealth Tax

Any individual, HUF, or a company whose total net wealth in the preceding financial year exceeded Rs. 30 lakhs, on the date of valuation of assets, was subject to a wealth tax at the rate of 1% of the amount over Rs. 30 lakhs.

How to Calculate Wealth Tax?

Following is the table showing the computation of the net wealth subject to taxation:

Particulars

Amount

Add: Deemed wealth xxx
Less: Exempt Assets

xxx

Less: Debts incurred related to the assets

xxx

Sum Total

xxx

If the total of all the above wealth heads exceeded Rs. 30 lakhs on the date of valuation of assets, wealth tax was applicable at the rate of 1% on the amount over Rs. 30 lakhs.

Mudit and Sarang are two individual taxpayers under wealth tax consideration.

Here’s the details of their wealth and tax calculation:

Particulars

Mudit (Rs)

Sarang (Rs)

Add: Deemed wealth

1.5 crores

1.9 crores

Less: Exempt Assets

15 lakhs

50 lakhs

Less: Debts incurred related to the assets

50 lakhs

1.2 crores

Sum Total 

85 lakhs

20 lakhs

As Mudit's total wealth exceeds Rs 30 lakhs he will need to pay a wealth tax, while Sarang can go without it.

What to Include in Wealth Tax Estimate?

The following assets were included in the wealth tax meaning:

  • Building
  • Vehicles
  • Jewellery, bullion
  • Yachts, boats, and aircrafts
  • Urban land
  • Cash
  • Deemed Assets

Deemed Wealth

Deemed wealth refers to the assets that do not legally belong to the assessee, but are clubbed with his assets while computation his net wealth, These include:

1. Assets transferred to taxpayer's spouse
2. Assets transferred to a beneficiary of the taxpayer
3. Assets transferred to son’s wife
4. Assets transferred to a beneficiary of the son’s wife
5. Assets held by a minor
6. The interest of the taxpayer in the assets of a firm/association
7. Family property
8. Assets transferred under a revocable transfer
9. Monetary gifts entered by the taxpayer in his books of accounts
10. Impartible assets held by the taxpayer
11. Any Building allotted to the taxpayer under a housing scheme
12. A Building for which taxpayer has acquired the rights
13. A Building where the taxpayer is allowed to take/ retain possession in partial performance of a contract.

Exemptions in Wealth Tax

Following are the Assets that were not considered as a part of net wealth for calculating the wealth tax

a) Property held by a trust, for charitable or religious purposes.
b) Interest in a coparcenary property of a Hindu Undivided family.
c) Jewellery possessed by a custodian of a royal family, not being his/her wealth.
d) Money/Asset brought in India by an individual of Indian origin or an Indian citizen.
e) In the case of the Individual/HUF, the house or the part of a house or any plot of land whose area doesn’t exceed 50 square meters.

No Wealth Tax: Opportunity to Invest and Grow Wealth

As of now, the government has discontinued the wealth tax in India. Earlier the taxpayers had to necessarily pay the tax on their wealth exceeding the threshold. Now, in absence of the wealth tax, you have the golden opportunity to invest your savings and build your wealth through the various savings and investment plans.

The following investment options let you grow your wealth and save tax at the same time.

a) Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS)
b) Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIP)
c) Guaranteed Savings Plans
d) Public Provident Fund (PPF)
e) New Pension Scheme (NPS)

How do Tax Saving Investments Work?

Equity Linked Savings Scheme and ULIP allow you to invest in a portfolio of equity stocks. Thus, you can enjoy the equity market growth while saving tax at the time of investment.

You can also earn tax-free returns if you take care of the limits in the instruments:

 -  Gains from ELSS will become taxable if they exceed Rs 1 lakhs
 -  ULIP returns become taxable if your annual investment in ULIP exceed Rs 2.5 lakhs (w.e.f. 1st Feb 2021)

NPS Tier-I account, which is meant for retirement savings, allows you to save tax on invested money. While this account gives you the option of equity growth, the most aggressive investment option has a 50% equity allocation.

PPF and guaranteed savings plans are investments for safe investors. Their returns are stable. You can also use ULIP to invest safely in debt funds without equity allocation.

So, save, invest and grow your wealth without worrying about wealth tax now.

Disclaimer: This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised to exercise their caution and not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature. Readers should research further or consult an expert in this regard. 

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