Gifting is an act, through which a person voluntarily transfers certain rights in an asset to another person, without any consideration. Gifting of a house property, has certain income tax and stamp duty implications.
Legal requirements for gift
As per the Transfer of Property Act, the transfer of a house property under a gift, has to be effected by a registered instrument/document, signed by or on behalf of the person gifting the property and should also be attested by at least two witnesses. The registrar shall ensure that proper stamp duty has been affixed on the gift deed/document, when it is presented for registration. The amount of stamp duty and registration charges payable, with respect to a gift deed, are generally the same as in the case of a regular sale. However, if the gift deed is executed between some specified close relatives, some states provide concessions in stamp duty. For example, Maharashtra has capped the stamp duty payable on gift of a residential or agricultural property to one’s spouse, children, grandchildren or wife of a son who has died, at Rs 200, irrespective of the value of the underlying property. Similarly, the registration charge is also capped at Rs 200.
Income tax implication
According to income tax laws, the value of all the gifts received by a person during a year is fully exempt, as long as the total of such gifts does not exceed Rs 50,000 in a year. If the value of all the gifts taken together exceeds Rs 50,000, then, the aggregate of the gifts received become taxable without any threshold exemption. However, income tax laws also give a favourable treatment, to gifts between two close relatives. Consequently, the gift of any asset (whether movable or immovable) made to certain specified relatives, is fully exempt from tax in the hand of the recipient, without any upper limit. The list of close relatives includes parents, spouse, siblings, siblings of the spouse, lineal ascendants and descendants of the person and his/her spouse. The list also includes spouse of the abovementioned persons.
If the house property is received as a gift from a relative, the first incidence of tax will arise, when you sell the property. The cost for the purpose of income tax, shall be the taken as the cost that was paid for the property by any of the previous owners. The profits shall be treated as short-term or long-term, depending on whether the aggregate of your holding period as well as that of the previous owner who had actually paid for it, is more than 36 months or not.
If the holding period as computed above is less than 36 months, the profit accrued on the sale of such property, shall be treated as short-term and will be added to your regular income and taxed at the applicable slab rate. However, if the holding period is more than 36 months, you will get the benefit of indexation on the cost of the property, as well as the option to claim exemption from payment of 20% long-term capital gains tax, by investing in a residential house or in capital gains bonds of Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) or National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
(The author is a taxation and home finance expert, with 30 years’ experience)