House property includes the building itself and any land attached to the building. Property refers to any building (house, office building, warehouse, factory, hall, shop, auditorium, etc.) and/or any land attached to the building (compound, garage, garden, car parking space, playground, gymkhana, etc.). There are many intricacies and types of house property which is calculated in different ways. Taxability may not necessarily be on actual rent or income received. If the property is not let out, the tax will be charged on the potential income the property is capable of yielding.
Before computing income from house property, it is important to understand the following definitions.
• Annual Value: This is the capacity of a property to earn income is its annual value.
• Municipal Value: This is the value of your property as evaluated by municipal authorities on which they charge municipal tax. Municipal authorities have a host of factors that they consider before assigning a municipal value.
• Fair Rental Value: The rent which a similar property with similar features in the same (or similar) area would fetch is the fair rental value.
• Standard Rent: Under the Rent Control Act, a standard rent is fixed and owners cannot receive rent higher than that specified in the Rent Control Act. This Act ensures that owners are paid fair rent, tenants are not exploited and are protected from eviction.
• Actual Rent received/receivable: This is the actual amount received by the owner from the tenant as rent, depending on who pays the water, electricity and other utility bills.
• Gross Annual Value (GAV): This is the highest among:
• Rent received or receivable
• Fair Market Value
• Municipal Valuation
If the Rent Control Act is applicable, the GAV is highest among:
• Standard Rent
• Rent Received
• Net Annual Value (NAV): NAV = GAV – Municipal Taxes Paid
• Deductions: To arrive at the actual taxable income from house property, two deductions are allowed, under Section 24 of the Income Tax Act :
• Statutory Deduction: 30% of the NAV is allowed as a deduction towards repairs, rent collection, etc. irrespective of the actual expenditure incurred. This deduction is not allowed if the Annual Value is nil.
• Interest on borrowed capital: is allowed as a deduction on accrual basis if the money was borrowed to buy/construct the house. Deduction is allowed on whichever is lesser between Rs.1,50,000 or the actual interest amount (in case the construction was completed within 3 years of taking the loan, on or after 1-April-1999.) In other cases, it’s between Rs.30,000, and the actual interest, whichever is less.
• Annual Value: Annual Value = NAV – Deductions.
• Owner/deemed owner: Income from house property is taxable to the owner of the property. The owner is the person who is entitled to receive income from property. This means that income is chargeable to the person who receives financial benefit from the property, even if the property is not registered to him, i.e. deemed owner. A deemed owner is an owner by implication and not necessarily documented registration
How to Save Tax on Income from House Property?
Careful planning can enable you to save a sizeable amount from taxation. Some of the things you can do to save tax are as follows:
• Joint Home Loan – If you jointly own a property with someone and also apply for a joint home loan with your partner, you will both be eligible for tax deductions on interest up to Rs. 1,50,000 each.
• Planning a second home? If you already have one self-occupied property registered to your name and wish to avoid paying taxes on a second home, register the second property on your spouse/relatives name to avoid excess taxation.
• Joint ownership – Taxation on income from house property can be divided between co-owners, and hence lessen the load.
• Ownership of more than one property – If you own multiple properties, only one of these can be registered as your residence and fall under self-occupied property (SOP). It is important to evaluate the tax liability on all your properties and choose the one with the highest tax liability to call home, and let out the remaining. You can also change the SOP every year.
• Empty houses – that you own will still be taxed based on the fair rental value, so it’s advisable to let any and all empty properties out, enabling income and no loss because of taxation.