Income Tax on share trading

Income tax on share trading  depends on whether you are showing it as “Capital gain” or “Business Income”.

Capital gain: If  you are trading in stock market as an  investor (mostly involved in delivery based trading), the gains from trading can be classified as:

  • Long term capital gain: – If  equity shares are sold after 12 months holding then such gain is subject to tax exemption. However, the security must be traded an Indian stock exchange on which STT has been paid. Exemption on long-term capital gain tax is not applicable if the shares are sold on the exchange outside India. Long term capital loss from equity shares is a dead loss – it can neither be adjusted nor carried forward.
  • Short term capital gain: If equity shares are sold within 12 months from the date of purchase, then the short term capital gain tax of 15% is applicable irrespective of the personal tax slab (10%, 20% etc). If investor’s other income excluding short-term capital gain is less than basic exemption limit then he can take benefit of such shortfall in basic exemption limit. Any short-term capital loss from equity trading can be set off against  any short-term capital gains. The important points to note here is that long-term capital gain arising on shares sold directly to a friend without routing it through Indian stock exchange are not exempted from tax as STT is not paid on such shares.

Business income: If you are trading in the stock market frequently (mostly non-delivery trade), returns from it can be classified as follows:

  • Speculative Business income:  Profit from intraday trading is categorized under speculative business income. Tax treatment is similar to your Business income tax. It is  taxed as per the tax slab you fall in while losses  can be offset only against speculative gains.
  • Non-speculative Business income: Income from trading futures & options on recognized exchanges (equity, commodity, & currency) is categorized under non-speculative business income. Tax on share trading in such cases is similar to your business income tax. The profits on F/O trading is taxed as per the tax slab you fall in whereas losses on such F/O trading can be set off against business profit.

So, the important point is whether to classify income from share trading under “capital gain” or “business income”. In general, if you are mostly involved in delivery based trading with very few non-delivery based trading then it is better to classify the income under “Capital Gain” head. (Consult with your chartered accountant before  finalizing the IT return)

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