Share Trading – Business income or Capital gain – Guiding principles

• Where assessee held shares from seven to eleven months, earned dividend and entered into a few transactions of sale of such shares during relevant year even though he held a huge number of shares, income arising from sale of shares would be taxable as short-term capital gain.

[CIT v. Vinay Mittal [2012] 22 taxmann.com 151 (Delhi)]

• Where assessee-company’s main business was investment in shares & securities, shares could not be treated as business assets but income from sale of shares was liable to capital gains.

CIT v. Trishul Investments Ltd.(2008) 305 ITR 434 (Mad.)

Taxability of income arising from sale of shares whether taxable as business income or short term capital gain – Guiding principles Asst. CIT v. Om Prakash Arora [2011] 16 taxmann.com 3w6 (ITAT-Delhi)

Following principles, can be applied on the facts of a case to find out whether transaction(s) in question are in the nature of trade or are merely for investment purposes:

1) What is the intention of the assessee at the time of purchase of the shares (or any other item). This can be found out from the treatment it gives to such purchase in its books of account. Whether it is treated as stock-in-trade or investment. Whether shown in opening/closing stock or shown separately as investment or non-trading asset.

2) Whether assessee has borrowed money to purchase and paid interest thereon. Normally, money is borrowed to purchase goods for the purposes of trade and not for investing in an asset for retaining.

3) What is the frequency of such purchases and disposal in that particular item ? If purchase and sale are frequent, or there are substantial transactions in that item, it would indicate trade. Habitual dealing in that particular item is indicative of intention of trade. Similarly, ratio between the purchases and sales and the holdings may show whether the assessee is trading or investing (high transactions and low holdings indicate trade whereas low transactions and high holdings indicate investment).

4) Whether purchase and sale is for realizing profit or purchases are made for retention and appreciation in its value ? Former will indicate intention of trade and latter, an investment. In the case of shares whether intention was to enjoy dividend and not merely earn profit on sale and purchase of shares . A commercial motive is an essential ingredient of trade.

5)How the value of the items has been taken in the balance sheet ? If the items in question are valued at cost, it would indicate that they are investments and where they are valued at cost or market value or net realizable value (whichever is less), it will indicate that items in question are treated as stock-in-trade.

6)How the company (assessee) is authorized in memorandum of association/articles of association ? Whether for trade or for investment? If authorized only for trade, then whether there are separate resolutions of the board of directors to carry out investments in that commodity and vice versa.

7)It is for the assessee to adduce evidence to show that his holding is for investment or for trading and what distinction he has kept in the records or otherwise, between two types of holdings. If the assessee is able to discharge the primary onus and could prima facie show that particular item is held as investment (or say, stock-in-trade) then onus would shift to revenue to prove that apparent is not real.

8) The mere fact of credit of sale proceeds of shares (or for that matter any other item in question) in a particular account or not so much frequency of sale and purchase will alone will not be sufficient to say that assessee was holding the shares (or the items in question) for investment.

9) One has to find out what are the legal requisites for dealing as a trader in the items in question and whether the assessee is complying with them. Whether it is the argument of the assessee that it is violating those legal requirements, if it is claimed that it is dealing as a trader in that item ? Whether it had such an intention (to carry on illegal business in that item) since beginning or when purchases were made ?

10) It is permissible as per CBDTs Circular No. 4 of 2007 of 15-6-2007 that an assessee can have both portfolios, one for trading and other for investment provided it is maintaining separate account for each type, there are distinctive features for both and there is no intermingling of holdings in the two portfolios.

11) Not one or two factors out of above alone will be sufficient to come to a definite conclusion but the cumulative effect of several factors has to be seen.

Extract From the Books of CA Agarwal Sanjay ‘Voice of CA’  titled ‘Capital Gains Under Income Tax Act, 1961’ –

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Categories: Income Tax


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