Share trading has grown significantly in the last decade due to rise of the stock market and rapid adoption of technology. It is seen as a way to make quick bucks by a lot of people. However there is a lot of confusion among on how to treat the income earned from trading shares viz. business gain or a capital gain. It is very important to know the difference because the tax liability of an individual will depend on this, as the tax treatment of Capital gains and Business income are completely different.
As per the income tax department, any purchase of shares made with the motive of earning profit is considered to be Business income, whereas investments made with the intent of earning income through dividends will amount to capital gain.
For Example, if Mr. Saket has earned Rs. 100,000 by trading in shares for a short term i.e. by intraday trading or trading in F&O, it is taxable under the head Income from Business or Profession as per the tax slab applicable to him. While if he holds the shares for a considerable period time to accumulate wealth then it comes under head Income from Capital gains (if it is for period exceeding 12 months then no tax is levied provided STT paid. If it is for a period not exceeding 12 months then he will charged at 15% on his net gain).
It also mentions that an individual can have two portfolios under the head Capital Gains and Business income, which means that if an individual earns income from intraday trading and F&O and also from investment in shares for considerable time to accumulate wealth then he can have portfolios under both the heads of income i.e. income from intraday Trading and F&O comes under Business Income while Investment in shares with the intent of accumulating profits comes under Capital Gains.
Thus, what matters is the intention of an individual whether he holds for a longer period of time to accumulate profits which constitutes the capital gain or does trading to earn profit (day to day) which constitutes the same to be treated as the business income.
Every individual should be very careful in characterization of income from share trading as capital gain or Business income because this characterization will affect the tax liability of the individual to a great extent. Suppose if you wrongly characterize your Long term Capital gain of Rs 100,000 as business income then you will be charged tax at rate of 30% that will amount to Rs.30,000 (Assuming you belong to highest Tax bracket) while the long term capital gains from shares are exempted provided STT paid. Thus you may end up paying extra tax.
Source: InvestmentYogi is one of the leading personal finance websites in India