Tax benefits for debt mutual funds removed, LS passes Finance Bill

File photo: PTI

New Delhi: Investments in debt mutual funds will be taxed as short-term capital gains from April 1 stripping investors of the long-term tax benefits that made such investments popular.

Currently, investors in debt funds pay income tax on capital gains according to the income tax slab for a holding period of three years. After three years these funds pay either 20 per cent with indexation benefits or 10 per cent without indexation.

After the amendment, such gains from transfer of units of specified mutual funds will be treated as short term and taxed at slab rates.

This is in addition to taxation of market linked debenture proposed in the original Finance Bill.

Specified mutual funds have been defined to include funds where not more than 35 per cent of proceeds is invested in shares of domestic companies. This may include debt mutual funds and gold ETFs where investment in domestic companies is less than 35 per cent of proceeds of the fund.

The move will bring taxation of such mutual funds on par with bank deposits which are taxed at slab rates.

Finance secretary T V Somanathan said the move was aimed at bringing parity with instruments which are of a similar nature.

The government in 2014 had changed the taxation of debt mutual funds (period of holding for short term gains was increased to 3 years and tax rates were increased to 20 per cent).

A cashier checks Indian rupee notes inside a room at a fuel station in Ahmedabad, India, September 20, 2018. File photo: REUTERS/Amit Dave

Finance Bill approved

The Lok Sabha on Friday approved The Finance Bill 2023 with 64 official amendments including providing tax relief to some taxpayers opting for new tax regime, and removing long-term tax benefit for debt mutual funds to bring them at par with other interest earning instruments.

In a relief to taxpayers opting for deductions and exemption-free new tax regime, individuals earning marginally higher income than no-tax ceiling of Rs 7 lakh will continue to pay nil tax.

Other amendments include raising the tax rate on royalty and fee for technical services from 10 per cent to 20 per cent.

The Finance Bill, which includes tax proposals for the fiscal year beginning April 1, was passed without a discussion as parliament continued to remain stalled over demands for a probe into allegations against the Adani group.

Lok Sabha, which had on Thursday approved Rs 45 lakh-crore Budget for 2023-24 fiscal in just 9 minutes, passed the Finance Bill amid placards holding opposition MPs shouting slogans from the well of the House.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved the Bill and the 64 amendments which were all approved by voice vote.

These will now go to Rajya Sabha and will become law once the President gives assent.

Credit card payments for foreign travel

Also, credit card payments for foreign travel will be brought under the purview of the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) of the Reserve Bank to ensure that such expenses do not escape TCS (Tax Collection at Source).

The Union Budget 2023 proposed a TCS for foreign outward remittance under LRS other than for education and medical purposes of 20 per cent applicable from July 1, 2023. Before this proposal, the TCS of 5 per cent was applicable on foreign outward remittances above Rs 7 lakh.

Tax Collected at Source (TCS) is an income tax, collected by the seller of specified goods, from the buyer. TCS is a concept where a person selling specific items is liable to collect tax from a buyer at a prescribed rate and deposit the same with the government.

The LRS, introduced in 2004, initially permitted outflow of $25,000. The LRS limit has been revised in stages consistent with prevailing macro and micro economic conditions.

LRS permits Indians to freely remit up to $250,000 (about Rs 2.05 crore) per financial year for current or capital account transactions or a combination of both. Any remittance exceeding this limit requires prior permission from the RBI.

Moving the Bill, Sitharaman also announced a committee under the finance secretary to look into pension issues of government employees.

The move comes in the backdrop of several non-BJP states deciding to revert to the DA-linked Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and also employee organisations in some other states raising demand for the same.

The state governments of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have informed the Centre about their decision to revert to the Old Pension Scheme and have requested a refund of corpus accumulated under the NPS.

With the increase in tax rate on royalty and fee for technical services, foreign companies will be required to avail tax treaty shelter to reduce the withholding tax rate.

(With PTI inputs.)

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