After my article on how much gold you can keep readers have requested me to write on taxation aspect of profits on sale of gold and its variants. Let us discuss Taxation of gold and gold products.

Article discusses Basic aspects of taxation of gold, Taxation of gold purchased, Taxation on sale of gold received by inheritance or gift, Taxation of Gold Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), Taxation under gold monetisation scheme, Taxation of sovereign gold bonds (SGBs) and Taxation of Digital Gold.

Basic aspects of taxation of gold

The profit on sale of your gold is taxable under the head “Capital Gains” unless you are a dealer in gold and jewellery in which case it becomes taxable under the head ”Profits and gains of business or profession”. The tax liability and exemptions from payment of tax available will depend on your holding period. The gold sold can either be  purchased by you or received by way of a gift or inheritance. The computation process will depend on the mode of such acquisition.

Gold Bars 1000 grams

Taxation of gold purchased

The profits on sale of gold can be either short term or long term depending on the period for which gold was held.  In case, the gold is held for more than 36 months, profit on sale of it is treated as long term else it is considered short term. The short term capital gains is treated like any other income and is added to your regular income which is taxed at the  slab rate applicable to you.  The long term capital gains are taxed at 20% and applicable surcharge and education cess, after taking the benefit of enhancing the your purchase price by using the cost inflation index for the year of purchase and for year of sale. The long term capital gain is computed by reducing such indexed cost from the net selling price realised. In case your profits are of long term in nature  you can claim exemption on such indexed long term gains by investing the amount of such capital gains in a residential house under section 54. Alternatively you can claim the exemption by investing such gains  in capital gains in bonds of Rural Electrification Corporation(REC) or National Highway Authority of India under section 54EC.

Taxation on sale of gold received by inheritance or gift

In respect of gold received as gift the same would become taxable at the time or receipt in case value of all the gifts received by you during the year exceeds Rs. 50,000/- in a year. Gifts up to Rs. 50,000/- in aggregate in a year are fully exempt. While arriving at whether a particular gift shall be included,  gifts received from close relatives and those received at the time of marriage are excluded without any monetary limit. Please note any asset received as inheritance either under a will or under the law of succession applicable to you is fully exempt .

Capital gain tax liability is triggered at the time of sale of gold which is received as inheritance or gift. While computing the holding period of such gold the period from the date when it was held by the previous owner who had actually paid for it is considered and same is treated as long term if the combined holding period is more than 36 months. For cost of acquisition, amount paid by the previous owner who had paid for it is taken.  For example, in case you inherited gold jewellery from your mother which in turn was inherited by your mother from her mother. If your grandmother had purchased it for Rs 50,000, then the amount paid by your grandmother shall be considered as the cost of acquisition for calculation of taxable capital gains. However, in case the jewellery was inherited by you or purchased by your grandmother before April 1, 2001, you have the option to consider the fair market value of such jewellery on April 1, 2001 instead of the cost of acquisition, which will be eligible for indexation as well. In case the jewellery is inherited by you after April 1, 2001, you will have to take Rs. 50,000 as the cost of acquisition and the benefit of indexation will be available from the year in which you inherited it as per the strict legal reading of the provisions of law. However, there are various decisions of few high courts, including Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat where the courts have held that in respect of inherited property or received as gift, taxpayer will not only be entitled to substitute the cost paid by any of the previous owners in case the asset is acquired after April 1, 2001, but also the taxpayer shall be entitled to get the benefit of indexation from the year in which that previous owner had acquired the property.

Taxation of Gold Exchange Traded Fund (ETF)

Units of gold ETFs are treated as debt funds and taxed accordingly. The holding period, tax rate and exemption available are similar to that of gold discussed above. The holding period for ETF to qualify as long term is more than 36 months and the tax rate applicable would be 20%. The same tax saving avenues are available as those  under section 54 and 54EC for long term capital gains on gold ETFs.

Taxation under gold monetisation scheme

The deposit certificate issued for gold deposited under the Gold Monetisation Scheme 2015 are not treated as capital asset for the purpose of capital gains taxation under the income tax law so any profits made on redemption/ maturity of such deposits are fully exempt from taxation. Further, interest earned on such deposit certificates is also fully exempt.

Taxation of sovereign gold bonds (SGBs)

taxation of returns from SGBs is different. SGBs earn an interest of 2.5 per cent per annum. Interest earned from these bonds will be taxable under the head Income from other sources and taxed at the rates applicable to your income. The maturity amount that you will receive after 8 years is linked to the gold prices prevailing at that time in the market. In the case of SGBs if any capital gains arise at the time of maturity, then those will be exempted from tax. However, the profits made on sale of such bonds before the redemption date shall be taxable depending on the holding period and the exemptions shall also be available if the capital gains are long term in nature and the indexed capital gains are invested either in a residential house or in specified bonds.

Taxation of Digital Gold

Many banks and brokerage companies, in partnership with MMTC, offer digital gold through their apps. Investors can invest very small amount of money in gold through this route. Income tax on digital form of gold is similar to what is applicable to the physical form of gold or gold ETFs.

(The Author is Chief Editor, Apnapaisa and can be reached at Jainbalwant@gmail.com.  Views are personal.)

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and does not constitute advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer to relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc before acting on the basis of the above write up.  The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that Author / TaxGuru is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof. This is not any kind of advertisement or solicitation of work by a professional.

(Republished with Amendments by Team Taxguru)

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6 Comments

  1. Anil Maheshwari says:

    In case of inheritance gold if acquisition by previous owner is before 01.04.1981 the value should be taken as at 01.04.2011 instead of 01.04.1981, please clarify.

    In case old SGBs issued previously are purchased from stock exchange and held till maturity whether it will be tax free in the hands of holder of bonds at the time of maturity?

    1. Balwant jain says:

      Yes. It should be 2001 and not 1981 as published in the article. Old article published prior to 2018 has been republished now. This error is being rectified.
      The SGB whether originally subscribed or bought from market will enjoy the capital gains exemption if held till maturity.

  2. B L Gupta says:

    A query about Service Tax sir.
    An Indian, residing in India as a freelancer, provides some online services to a US agency, for promoting tourism in the US. He gets payment for the job from US in USD, converted to INR, direct to his bank account in India. The entire work is done online which is mainly creating ads and posting it on the social media.
    Will he be required to pay service Tax?
    Thanks and regards sir!

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