No tax levied on inheritance in India even for NRIs


When the inheritor sells inherited assets, capital gains tax applies to both residents and non-residents
Long-term capital gains are taxed at 20%, excluding education cess and surcharge
Is dividend income from stocks taxable in India? The stocks were bought from a non-resident (external) or NRE account. Also, is there any cap on dividend income for NRIs?

—D.R. Masand

A dividend received from an Indian company is exempt from tax since the company declaring such dividend already deducts dividend distribution tax before paying you. In the case of a resident individual or HUF (Hindu Undivided Family) or firm, the dividend is taxed at the rate of 10% if the total amount of dividend received from a domestic company during the year exceeds ₹10 lakh (as per Section 115BBDA of the Income Tax Act). It is to be noted that tax shall be levied on dividend income to the extent it is more than ₹10 lakh. Note that the source of the funds from which these stocks were purchased does not matter for deciding how dividend income shall be taxed.

Buying A Property

Since you are a non-resident in India, the total dividend income received by you from Indian companies shall be exempt from tax. However, you are likely a tax resident of another country. Your dividend may be taxed in other countries. If such income is being taxed twice, you need not worry, as you may be able to claim double taxation relief. You may not have to pay tax on the same income twice.

We are Canadian citizens. My father, who is 56 years old, recently inherited 2 acres of farmland and a flat with rentals in Ludhiana. He wants to transfer everything to me and wants me to sell everything. What will be the tax implication of inheriting and selling the properties for a Canadian citizen?

—Keerat Singh

There is no tax in India on inheritance. However, when the inheritor sells these inherited assets, capital gains tax applies to both residents and non-residents who sell the property situated in India. To identify the tax rates and calculation method, it is important first to identify whether these are long-term or short-term capital gains. The property must be held for more than two years to qualify as a long-term capital asset. To calculate this period of holding, the previous owner’s period is also included. In your case, it seems this asset will be a long-term capital asset. Long-term capital gains are arrived at after reducing the indexed cost of acquisition from the sale price. In the case of inheritance, the previous owner’s cost is indexed from the year of the original purchase. This is done by multiplying the cost by the Cost Inflation Index (CII) of the year of sale and dividing it by the CII of the year of purchase. In case the property has been bought before 2001, you can use CII of FY 2001-2002, which is the base year for calculation. Long-term capital gains are taxed at 20%, excluding education cess and surcharge.

If you choose to invest these gains in another property, you can claim capital gains tax exemption. Or you can purchase capital gains bonds. In case you decide to invest in a property but cannot purchase it by the due date of filing the tax return of the year in which the property is sold, you can deposit these gains in a capital gains account scheme, as per the time and manner prescribed.