What Are the Differences between Short Term & Long Term Capital Gains?

nvestments such as cryptocurrencies, stocks, real estate, commodities, etc., are popular as they help people grow their wealth by investing in avenues backed by proper research. Investors are likely to make substantial and consistent returns by investing  money into these passive sources of income from time to time.

Speaking of returns, we often come across terms like capital gains such as short-term and long-term gains. So, what are these, and how do they affect our taxation?

Keep reading to know the differences between short-term and long-term capital gains.

What Are Capital Gains?

Capital gains are the earnings an individual makes after selling their assets. These assets can include equities, mutual funds, debt securities, real estate, commodities, etc. Such assets are called capital assets. When an individual earns profit by selling such assets, such profits are termed as capital gains.

The Income Tax Act of 1961 considers these capital gains taxable and taxes them according to their holding period. A capital gain is eligible for taxation only when the wealth transfer occurs in the previous fiscal year.

Based on their holding periods, we can classify capital gains into two types – short-term  capital gains and long-term gains.

What Are Short Term Capital Gains?

When one sells capital assets before the end of the holding period, they are considered as short-term capital gains. 

Capital gains for movable assets and debt securities are categorised as short-term when one sells them within 3 years. Immovable assets bring short-term capital gains when one sells them in less than 2 years. Additionally, the holding period for equity assets for short-term capital gains is less than 1 year.

In the case of bonds or debt funds, small-term capital gains can be more for individuals belonging to the highest tax bracket. Here, the effective tax rate would be approximately 30%. Their small-term capital gain from selling equity and equity related assets would be 15%.

Formula for calculating Short Term Capital Gains?

The formula to calculate small-term capital gains (STCG) is as follows:

STCG = Sale Consideration – (Summation of cost of acquisition + cost of improvement + transfer)

Here, the sale consideration is the total amount received from selling an asset. The acquisition cost is the purchase price, while the cost of improvement refers to any expenses for making additions and alterations.  Any additional costs connected with selling the item is also taken into account.

What Are Long Term Capital Gains (LTCG)?

Unlike short-term capital gains, when one sells their assets after the end of the holding period, such gains are considered to be long-term capital gains. 

For immovable assets, the holding period must be two years or more to be considered for LTCG. On the contrary, gains from movable assets can become LTCG if sold after 3 years. For financial assets, any gains that occur after selling assets after 1 year are considered as  long-term capital gains.

Formula for calculating Long Term Capital Gains Tax

There are no indexation benefits on long term capital gains tax for equity investments. Only 10% of the non-indexed long-term capital gain is charged as tax.  There is no formula as such to calculate tax on long-term capital gains. 

Key Differences between Short-Term Capital Gains and Long-Term Capital Gains 

Let’s take a look at the key differences between short-term and long-term capital gains in the table below.

Short-Term Capital GainsLong-Term Capital Gains
The capital gain one earns on selling small-term capital assets are small-term capital gains.The capital profits that one makes from the transfer or sale of long term capital assets are long-term capital gains. 
The holding period is less than 12 months for equity assets.The holding period is 12 months and more for equity assets.
For capital assets, the holding period is less than 24 months for immovable assets and less than 36 months for movable and non-equity assets.The holding period must exceed 24 months for immovable assets and more than 36 months for movable and non-equity assets.
STCG enjoys no indexation benefits.LTCG can enjoy the benefits of indexation for non-equity assets.
Short-term Capital Gains are taxed according to the normal slab rate (for assets other than equities).20% (for assets other than equities).
For equities, the tax rate is 15% for STCGFor equities, the tax rate is 10% if LTCG exceeds ₹1 lakh.

Final Words

To conclude, investors should be well aware of their financial scenario and risk appetite while planning any investment. This will help one understand their finances well and aim for the future with an informed decision. This is all about small-term vs long-term capital gains that will help you plan your investment better. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) .

What is the indexed cost of acquisition?

The purchase price of an asset after applying the benefits of indexation is the indexed cost of acquisition. The purchase price of an asset plus the indexation benefits is the indexed cost of acquisition. You can calculate the indexed cost of acquisition with the following formula:
Indexed cost of acquisition = Cost of Acquisition * (Cost Inflation Index for the year of asset transfer) / (Cost  Inflation Index for the year asset was purchased)

What is the cost of improvement?

The indexed cost of the improvement is the expense an individual incurs on rebuilding, repairing or renovating an asset.

How to calculate indexed cost of improvement?

You can calculate the indexed cost of improvement using the following formula:
Indexed cost of improvement = Cost of Improvement * (Cost  Inflation Index for the year of asset transfer) / (Cost  Inflation Index for the year asset was improved)

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Disclaimer: This article has been prepared on the basis of internal data, publicly available information and other sources believed to be reliable. The article may also contain information which are the personal views/opinions of the authors. The information contained in this article is for general, educational and awareness purposes only and is not a complete disclosure of every material fact. It should not be construed as investment advice to any party. The article does not warrant the completeness or accuracy of the information and disclaims all liabilities, losses and damages arising out of the use of this information. Readers shall be fully liable/responsible for any decision, whether related to investment or otherwise, taken on the basis of this article.

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