Taxation of Dividends Brings in the Rigmarole of Submitting Form 15G and 15H
Ameet N Patel 29 July 2020
Readers would be aware that Yashwant Sinha in his capacity as finance minister had, in 2003, brought about a sea change in the taxation of dividend income. In the Budget of 2003, he had done away with taxation of dividend in the hands of the shareholders or unitholders and instead transferred the onus of payment of tax to the companies and mutual funds. Over the years, there were several changes in this scheme of taxation. But the fundamental principle remained constant i.e., recipient of dividend was not required to pay tax on it but the company or mutual fund declaring the dividend was required to pay a dividend distribution tax (DDT). 
This law was applicable from FY03-04 (assessment year 04-05) to FY19-20 (assessment year 20-21). In the Budget of 2020, the current finance minister has restored the old position that was in existence before FY03-04. Thus, now, with effect from FY20-21, dividend income would once again be taxable in the hands of the recipients and no DDT would be payable by the company or mutual fund. 
It may be noted that in the past when dividend was taxable in the hands of the recipients, we had Section 80L under which a deduction was available to the shareholder of up to Rs12,000 per year for the dividend income. Unfortunately, now, even though dividend has been made taxable, section 80L or its equivalent have not been brought onto the statute. So, effectively, the entire dividend income would be taxable now without any deduction of the type that was available prior to 1 April 2003.
The taxation of dividend in the hands of the shareholders and unitholders has given rise to another compliance burden for some taxpayers and, of course, for the companies and mutual funds—that of tax deducted at source (TDS).
TDS or tax deduction at source is mandatory for most types of payments. Dividend will also attract TDS. There is an existing section in the Income-tax Act—Section 194, which applies to TDS from dividend on shares. As per this section, the company which declares dividend is required to deduct TDS from the dividend @ 10%. 
Apart from the actual tax, the company would also need to deduct surcharge wherever applicable. In the same way, a newSection—194K—has been introduced into the Income-tax Act under which mutual funds have to deduct TDS @ 10%. 
While this 10% is the standard rate of deduction, with a view to alleviate the hardship caused by COVID-19, the government has, across the board, reduced the TDS rates by 25% of the normal rates. Therefore, the actual rate of TDS for FY20-21 will be 7.50% instead of 10%. Of course, if you don’t have a PAN then the rate would be 20%.
For individuals, there is one concession – the TDS is to be deducted only if the total dividend expected to be distributed or paid to a shareholder by that particular company or mutual fund is likely to exceed Rs5,000 in the year (April to March). Thus, for example, if a person has shares of, say, Tata Chemicals and if the total dividend that is likely to be paid by Tata Chemicals to that shareholder in the whole year is not expected to be more than Rs5,000, then Tata Chemicals need not deduct any TDS for that shareholder.
Now, as far as senior citizens or retired persons are concerned, it is possible that the total income even after including dividend income will not exceed the threshold limit. In such cases, if the company that is paying the dividend deducts TDS then it would unnecessarily block the much required funds of that person and he or she would need to claim a refund from the income-tax department. 
To avoid such a problem, the Income-tax Act provides a facility to such taxpayers to avoid TDS by submitting Form 15G or Form 15H to the company or mutual fund in advance (at the beginning of the year) and thereby authorize the said company or mutual fund to not deduct TDS in that year. 
Form 15H is applicable to senior citizens (which term is defined to mean any person who is more than 60 years of age) with no taxable income. This form can be submitted by any senior citizen who expects his tax liability for that year to be NIL. Thus, what the senior citizen has to do at the beginning of the year is to estimate the gross income for the year, reduce the deductions, if any, compute the tax liability and reduce the rebate if any, and then, if there is nothing payable, he/she can fill up Form 15H and submit to the company or mutual fund from whom income is expected during the year.
On the other hand, Form 15G can be filed by a non-senior citizen who expects his tax liability for that year to be NIL.
Now, the problem that most people will face this year (and every year thereafter) is that they will have to file Form 15G/15H with every single company or mutual fund where they hold shares or units if they don’t want a TDS from the dividend income. 
This is a major compliance burden on the share or unitholders especially in those cases where there a large number of companies or mutual funds in which the taxpayer holds investments. Most people would have, by now, got emails from many companies and mutual funds asking them to fill up Form 15G/15H. Most such mails would have asked the share or unit holder to submit the form to the registrar & transfer agent (RTA) of the company or mutual fund. 
Would it not be simple if a shareholder or unit-holder could submit just one common form to the RTA or some other agency and thereby get the exemption from TDS from dividend from all companies or mutual funds in which he/she holds investments? 
Yes, it would. 
But unfortunately, that is not possible. This is because the liability to deduct TDS is on each company or mutual fund. Also, the way the Income-tax Act  and rules are drafted, it is mandatory for each company or mutual fund to obtain a separate Form 15G or 15H from the concerned share or unit-holder. 
Each such company or mutual fund has multiple responsibilities with respect to the forms so received by it from the share or unit-holders. So, now, those who wish to avoid TDS from their dividend income will have to go through the rigmarole of submitting the Form 15G/15H to each company or mutual fund from which dividend income in excess of Rs5,000 is expected during the year.
 (Ameet Patel is a practising chartered accountant who qualified in 1986 and as a rank holder at the Inter and Final CA examinations. He is the ex-president of the Bombay Chartered Accountants' Society (BCAS), a voluntary body of Chartered Accountants. Mr Patel has co-authored two publications published by the BCAS. Currently, he is a partner at Manohar Chowdhry & Associates.)
3 years ago
Need Help -

if a person's total income is above 5L and paying some income taxes every year. Also dividend is not exceeding 5000 Rs.

Then will that person entitled to fill and submit form 15G to the organization ?
4 years ago
It is absurd on the part of Finance Ministry to have initiated this system by insisting upon the burden on the tax payer as enormous workload is thus created all round increasing paper work to individuals, the firm's and the IT dept. in the submission of 15H/15G forms, deduction and refund of tax through TD S system. Penny wise pound foolish. We need a well experienced and competent F.M.
4 years ago
Ameet, the more problematic issue is if the Company or its RTA claims that they do not have the PAN, then TDS is at 20% and the shareholder will not get the credit because in Form 26Q filed by the Co. this will shown against no PAN.
Replied to prasanna comment 4 years ago
I understand that now a days without pan demat account is not opened as well as mf investment done
As far as no pan is available this must be those investors who must be holding in physical form where the company must not be listed or the holding must be in single name or the holder must have expired and not transferred or dematted
Ramesh Popat
4 years ago
I m sure govt can easily allow Cams fir example, to collect 15H
for all MFs. it may be a blessing in disguise!
ML can very well take up the issue please. and most likely, it may
get success.
4 years ago
Instead of simplifying, theTaxation is being made more Complex and Cumbersome, especially the weakest layer of People.
4 years ago
How many form 15H one will file every year? I will be 80 years old next year. I find it bothersome filing 15H forms to banks every year. Now I have to file ti 15 different companies every year. The government has not consideration for the senior citizens. This dividend tax on individuals should be scrapped. The government can very well capture the dividend income in form 26AS along with other receipts of tax payers.
Replied to evishwanathan comment 4 years ago
The Lady, Nirmala is only an Economist and that too only by Qualification. Economics and Financial matters are quite different from each other. The earlier Finance Minister was a regular Lawyer in Delhi Courts. Wonder who will be the next.
Replied to shetyerb comment 4 years ago
disappointed with policies
4 years ago
I wish somebody would collate all the taxes that this government has re-introduced like long term capital gains on equity, dividend tax, buyback tax etc. All have made investing more difficult for the common man and that lack of savings and investments has a terrible impact at times like these. Too many examples of people with hardly any savings now losing their jobs/business. The other list would be of daily suicides but that is so depressing, I shudder to even think about it. Ache din!
Replied to danny23 comment 4 years ago
yes even the rate of interest is so low that people wonder where to invest, even secured ncds are not secured any more( dhfl, rel.home fin.) are examples.
Will the FM give some solution to this by asking sebi.
what about investors who have invested in FDs of reputed companies at one time and now they are chasing for the principal refund. Will Fm follow this
4 years ago
6 yrs ago we were told big stories of "ease of business"!
4 years ago
The bird brained idea of bureaucrats!
Why not simply say up to 2.5 or 3 lakh dividend per year in total NO TAX, so no need for form 15 G or 15 H at all!
Income up to that amount is any way NOT taxable.
Or have only one form to be submitted to DP like we do for dividend credit? Make use of technology and automation. The curious ways of IAS guys is unfathomable.
Replied to parimalshah1 comment 4 years ago
If political leadership cannot guide the bureaucrats for some reason then better that political leadership resign and get lost. Since 2014, this is one of the problems that this country is facing. Anything negative happens then blame the bureaucrats. Anything positive, credit will go to political masters. Strange.
4 years ago
What will happen if the company receives form 15g//h after the dividend is paid net of tax
Not everyone is having printer at home so senior citizens most affected
4 years ago
hcl tech insists for 15G/H, even if the dividend payable is less thanRs.5000/-. Have to send the signed originals to the RTA by Courier/Regd Post within the stipulated date (irrespective of the delay due to covid) -another exercise- thanks to this Govt! 80L forgotten!! One more thanks to this Govt!!!
4 years ago
So much paper work. What a waste of Indians time and energy.
Mr.Yashwant Sinha where are you? We are stuck with this pickles lady.
Replied to Newme comment 4 years ago
She may not be aware of the implications. This happens when you sign on the dotted lines as suggested by the beuracrat. Better let TDS be deducted. File your ROI and wait for refund. The Act should be amended to ensure refunds in the case of senior citizens are done within 2 months of filing the Return of income.
Replied to rajagopalsridhar comment 4 years ago
refunds are processed quickly by this govt, but what about persons who do not have taxable income and do not file the returns, at least the FM should have taken care of such matters before taking the decisions.
Replied to Newme comment 4 years ago
Lots of paperwork senior citizens are going to go thru tough time instead of simplifying taxation rules fm is making it more complicated also note previous fm late Shri Jaitely ji complicated by grandfathering LTCG. till 1lac
Replied to lcrossroad comment 4 years ago
Who is bothered. After the senior cittizen are considered a drain on economy as they do not contribute towards GDP.
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