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Section 54B of Income Tax Act: Capital Gains Exemption on Sale of Agricultural Land

by | May 1, 2024 | Income Tax | 0 comments

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Important Keyword: Capital Gains Exemption, Income Heads, Income Tax, Section 54B.

Section 54B of Income Tax Act: Capital Gains Exemption on Sale of Agricultural Land

Section 54B of the Income Tax Act provides a significant relief to farmers who sell agricultural land with the intention of acquiring another. This provision acknowledges that the primary motive behind such transactions is not profit-making but rather the acquisition of a more suitable piece of land for agricultural purposes.

By granting a Capital Gain Exemption under this section, farmers are relieved from the burden of paying income tax on the capital gains realized from the sale of one agricultural land when the proceeds are reinvested in another agricultural land. This exemption serves to alleviate the financial strain that would otherwise be imposed on farmers, recognizing the unique nature of their transactions and the essential role they play in agricultural activities.

Who can Claim an Exemption Under Section 54B of the Income Tax Act?

To qualify for exemption under section 54B of the Income Tax Act, taxpayers must satisfy the following conditions:

  1. Individual or HUF Status: The taxpayer seeking exemption must be either an individual or a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF). This benefit is not extended to companies, Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), or firms.
  2. Sale of Agricultural Land: The land sold must qualify as a Long Term Capital Asset if sold after 24 months of ownership or a Short Term Capital Asset if sold within 24 months.
  3. Use for Agricultural Purposes: The agricultural land sold must have been utilized for agricultural purposes by the taxpayer, their parent, or HUF for at least two years preceding the sale.
  4. Purchase of New Agricultural Land: The taxpayer must utilize the proceeds from the sale of the old agricultural land to purchase new agricultural land within two years from the date of sale.
  5. Location of New Agricultural Land: The newly acquired agricultural land must be situated within the territory of India.

Meeting all these conditions enables taxpayers to claim exemption under section 54B, providing them with a vital financial reprieve and encouraging continuity in agricultural activities.

To claim the Capital Gains Exemption under Section 54B, taxpayers must adhere to specific steps while filing their Income Tax Returns (ITR) for the respective financial year.

What is the Amount of Exemption available Under Section 54B of the Income Tax Act?

To calculate the deduction under Section 54B, Palak must determine the least of the following amounts:

  1. Cost of New Agricultural Land: The value of the new agricultural land acquired by Palak, which is INR 45,00,000.
  2. Capital Gains on the Sale of Agricultural Land: The capital gains realized from the sale of the agricultural land, which is the selling price minus the purchase price. In this case, the capital gains would be INR 60,00,000 (selling price) minus INR 30,00,000 (purchase price), resulting in a total of INR 30,00,000.

Since the cost of the new agricultural land (INR 45,00,000) is less than the capital gains on the sale of the agricultural land (INR 30,00,000), Palak’s deduction under Section 54B would be INR 30,00,000.

ParticularsAmount (INR)
Sales Consideration60,00,000
Less: Indexed Cost of Acquisition (30,00,000*348/264)39,54,545
Long Term Capital Gains20,45,455
New Agricultural Land Purchase price45,00,000
Section 54B Exemption amount20,45,455

What Happens to Exemption in the case of sale of Agricultural Land?

In scenarios related to the lock-in period under Section 54B of the Income Tax Act, different consequences arise based on the timing and circumstances of the sale of the new agricultural land:

  1. Situation 1: Sale Within 3 Years with New Asset Cost Less Than Capital Gains
    • If the taxpayer sells the new agricultural land within 3 years from the date of purchase and the cost of the new asset purchased is less than the capital gains:
      • Consequences: The exemption under Section 54B is revoked, and the total sales value of the agricultural land becomes taxable as capital gains. The cost of acquisition for the new asset will be considered as zero.
  2. Situation 2: Sale Within 3 Years with New Asset Cost More Than Capital Gains
    • If the taxpayer sells the new agricultural land within 3 years from the date of purchase and the cost of the new asset is more than the capital gains:
      • Consequences: The exemption under Section 54B is revoked. However, the taxpayer can still claim the cost of acquisition (Total Purchase Price – Exemption u/s 54B) while calculating capital gains.
  3. Situation 3: Sale After 3 Years
    • If the taxpayer sells the new agricultural land after 3 years from the date of purchase or construction:
      • Consequences: The exemption under Section 54B remains intact. The taxpayer can claim the index cost of acquisition while calculating Long Term Capital Gains on the agricultural land sold.

What is the Capital Gains Account Scheme (CGAS)?

When a taxpayer faces challenges in utilizing the entire or a portion of the sales consideration for purchasing new agricultural property before the due date for submitting the Income Tax Return (ITR), they have the option to deposit the funds into the Capital Gains Deposit Account Scheme (CGAS). By doing so, the taxpayer can still claim exemption on the amount already spent on purchasing land, in addition to the funds deposited in the CGAS.

However, it’s crucial to understand that if the taxpayer fails to utilize the amount deposited in the Capital Gains Account Scheme within the prescribed time limit of 3 years, it will be treated as taxable income of the last year. Therefore, taxpayers should carefully manage their funds and ensure timely utilization to avoid any adverse tax implications.

Read More: Capital Gains Exemption

Web Stories: Capital Gains Exemption

Official Income Tax Return filing website: https://incometaxindia.gov.in/

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