“Housing for all by 2022” was the stated objective of the Government, with a view to provide 20 million affordable houses to the Urban Poor by 31st March 2022 but the objective has certainly not been achieved is what eminent taxation and real estate lawyer Mr Anil Harish shared during his budget analysis session. There are slums and dilapidated tenancy houses in many cities, and "makaan" remains only a distant dream for many.
The Federation of Accommodation Industry of India hosted a special budget analysis session sponsored by Maker Development Services in Mumbai on Monday evening.
Speaking at the event, Mr Anil Harish explained the finer details and the interpretations of the recently announced budget.
Speaking at the same meeting, Mr Niranjan Hiranandani, President, NAREDCO and President, ASSOCHAM said that the real estate industry felt dissatisfied with the overall budget. He described it as --lack of total clarity, lack of demand, lack of liquidity and tax terrorism. He claimed that “inequity and unfairness to this unbelievable extent has never been seen earlier”, referring to the dividend tax that an Indian investor would pay vis-à-vis a foreign investor. According to Mr Hiranandani, there are 4,50,000 members in ASSOCHAM (mostly small and medium enterprises) , out of which more than 2,00,000 members are credit starved. Despite this, there was not even a single word spoken on this lack of liquidity in the budget.
Here is a brief summary of the amendments in Budget 2020 in relation to real estate by Mr Anil Harish:
1. Section 43CA, Section 50C and Section 56 of the Income tax Act state that the Stamp valuation will be applied for determining the tax liability. A variation, ie a "safe harbor" of 5 per cent was then permitted. This is now to be increased to 10 per cent. This is good, but this itself shows that the Stamp Valuation in many cases is higher than the actual market prices. Therefore, a band -aid solution is not enough- a thorough review of the Stamp Valuation is required.
2. Section 80-IBA which gives 100 per cent deduction to the profits from an Affordable Housing Project, requires that the approval for the project should be taken by 31.3.2020. This is now extended to 31.3.2021.
3. Likewise, Section 80EEA provides that a deduction for Rs. 1,50,000 will be available in respect of interest on a loan for a residence in a housing project, IF the loan is sanctioned by 31.3.2020. This is now getting extended to 31.3.2021. This is good but will again need review next year.
We need a longer term vision.
4. The value as on 1.4.2001 will now have to be the Stamp Valuation on that date, even if the market value is known.
All these amendments are in favor of the assessees, but do not go far enough to give a boost to the real estate sector which is one of the biggest employers in the country.
At the beginning of his presentation, he shared that there were a total of 264 amendments to the Income Tax act so far during FY 2019-20.
Mr Anil Harish explained very lucidly the various amendments in Budget 2020 and the repercussions on the common man.
If the land or building is purchased before 01-4-2001, the fair market value as on that date can be taken as cost of acquisition of such property as per existing provisions of the Act. As per the new provision in sub-section (2) of Section 55, it has been proposed that such fair market value cannot exceed the stamp duty value of the property as on 01-04-2001.
The Budget 2020 has also marginally increased the safe harbour limit available under Section 43CA, 50C and 56 from 5 percent to 10 percent. This means that capital gains tax paid on the differential of circle rate (Ready reckoner rates or RRV) and the actual real estate transaction value will now apply only if the difference is over 10 per cent. Previously, it applied to all transactions with a difference of over 5 per cent in circle rate value.
However, this is still too miniscule in terms of the current crash in property prices and the slump in demand. E.g. In Nariman Point, the difference in RRV rates and the actual property prices is as high as 40 percent.
The Budget 2020 did offer a tax holiday for the affordable housing segment in what appears to be a sustained focus on this segment of the sector.
Developers currently claim 100 per cent deduction of profits (under Section 80 IBA) from affordable housing projects. The deduction is applicable only if these projects are approved during the period from June 1, 2016 to March 31, 2020.
Now, this benefit has been extended up to March 31, 2021, in a bid to increase the supply of affordable housing units in the market.
With this extension of tax holiday (100 percent deduction of profits) in affordable housing for another financial year, it is expected that builders may launch more projects in the affordable segment in the near future. It is also observed that given the higher demand for affordable and mid-income projects, large developers with deep pockets have been able to realign themselves to tap the opportunity in these segments and launch new projects. The trend is likely to continue in the near future with new project launches.
Similarly, for individuals, the existing deductions (under Section 80EEA) of Rs 1,50,000 on interest available for housing loans sanctioned during the period from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 has now been extended up to March 31, 2021.
The deduction continues to apply for first time home buyers, purchasing affordable house property (valued at Rs 45,00,000). This deduction continues to be available over and above the Rs 2,00,000 deductions under Section 24 of Income Tax Act.