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Section 50AA of Income Tax Act: Explore Capital Gains on Specified Mutual Funds and Market Linked Debentures

Updated: Jul 3

Section 50AA of Income Tax Act: Explore Capital Gains on Specified Mutual Funds and Market Linked Debentures

Investors find it very difficult to overcome the complexities of capital gains tax. More so because of complex sections of the Income Tax Act, like Section 50AA. It deals with those special cases only concerning the capital gains accruing from two of the most popular investment vehicles that attract diverse portfolios: specified mutual funds and market-linked debentures. Thus, understanding Section 50AA will become very important for an investor if he aspires to optimize tax implications, while enhancing the returns on his investments.

In this article, we will explore Section 50AA and how it applies to capital gains arising to investors in certain mutual funds and market-linked debentures. We would especially cover what exactly is meant by the terms "specified mutual fund" and "market-linked debenture," how they stand differently for the purpose of taxation under this section of the Income-tax Act, and how practically to deal with these kinds of investments for the purpose of taxation.


Table of Contents


Understanding Capital Gains

Capital Gains mean the profit or gain that may arise from the sale or transfer of a capital asset chargeable to tax. A capital asset generally means or includes any kind of property held by an individual, whether connected with their business or profession or not. This includes, among others, shares, bonds, real estate property, vehicles, patents, trademarks, and leasehold rights. The gain from selling these assets is considered as income, and therefore, it falls under the category which may be called as 'capital gains'.

Types of Capital Gains

  • Short-term Capital Gains (STCG): Any capital gain accruing on account of transfer of a capital asset held for a short period, that is, less than 36 months prior to the date of sale, is called a short-term capital gain. However, the period of holding, in respect of shares, equity-oriented mutual funds, and securities listed in any recognized stock exchange, is less than 12 months.

  • Long-term Capital Gains (LTCG): In case the period of holding an asset is more than the stipulated period, that is, 36 months or 12 months, depending on the nature of the asset, such gains shall be considered of a long-term capital gain.

Overview of Specified Mutual Funds

Though there is no definition of "specified mutual funds" in any particular section of the Income Tax Act, it refers to different types of funds for the purpose of taxation in its various provisions. In general, Specified Mutual Funds are the funds that may be invested in equity or debt or both and may get special tax treatment under different provisions of the Act. Out of these, ELSS is a fund commonly encountered in tax-saving contexts.

Types of Mutual Funds under this Category

  • ELSS (Equity Linked Savings Schemes): It is basically a type of mutual fund that is mainly invested in the stock market. They also provide tax benefits under the Income Tax Act, Section 80C. This means that investments made in ELSS are eligible for deductions; however, they have a lock-in period of three years, the shortest among tax-saving options available under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.

  • Infrastructure Debt Funds: These funds primarily invest in the infrastructure company or projects and are classified as Specified Mutual Funds, especially for giving the investment incentives of long-term nature. They offer a concession rate of taxation on interest income to the non-resident investors.

  • Pension Funds: Some mutual funds, especially retirement savings-based funds come with the benefit of deduction in taxes under Section 80C of the Income-tax Act, 1961. It can be considered as specified mutual funds. Normally, pension plans offered by mutual fund houses that are designed to bring in an income on retirement fall under this category.

  • Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme: Although this one is discontinued now, it was a type of specified mutual fund, which had the motive to encourage small investors towards equity investments. The eligibility to get investment in this scheme carries tax benefits under Section 80CCG of the Income Tax Act.

  • Other Sector-specific Funds: In addition, some mutual funds investing in certain sectors that get favorable tax treatment under various provisions of the Income Tax Act may also be regarded as specified mutual funds. For example, this might include funds investing in renewable energy sectors that enjoy different depreciation or deduction benefits.

Introduction to Market Linked Debentures (MLDs)

Market Linked Debentures (MLDs) are a type of non-convertible debentures whose returns would not be fixed but are linked to the performance of a defined market index or any other underlying asset. The returns under MLDs are linked to the performance of the linked market index or asset during the investment period and, as such, differ from conventional debentures having a predetermined fixed interest rate. MLDs are generally structured products that companies issue for fundraising exercises, offering an alternative route to investing in their equity or bonds directly.

How Market Linked Debentures (MLDs) Differ from Traditional Fixed-Income Securities?

  • Return Profile: Unlike the traditional fixed-income securities, that is, bonds, which generate fixed returns in the form of periodic interest payments, MLDs provide returns directly linked to the performance of the basic underlying index or asset. This means potentially higher returns if the market goes up; however, it may also mean lower or no returns at all if the market goes down.

  • Risk Exposure: MLDs are riskier than traditional fixed-cum-interest investments, as there is a desire for performance of the market. This makes them more like equity investments rather than stable debt instruments.

  • Payout Structure: Traditional debentures, by and large, pay interest on periodic intervals, which may be due every yearly or half-yearly. In contrast, the MLDs usually pay out at maturity, where such amount depends on the attainment of predefined benchmarks that are linked to the market or asset performance.

  • Tax treatment: Tax treatment of MLDs can also differ significantly from traditional fixed-income products where interest income is usually taxed based on investors' income tax slab rates. Depending upon the structure, returns on MLDs could get taxed as capital gains, making it tax-efficient in certain conditions.

Which Types of Investors Should Consider Market Linked Debentures (MLDs)?

  • High-Risk Tolerance Investors: Especially for the investors who have a willingness to take a greater risk for higher returns, MLDs are rather attractive. Such investors do have a relatively better understanding of market movements and are hence positioned better to take uploaded views pertaining to future performance.

  • Portfolio Diversification: Investors looking to diversify their portfolios beyond traditional stocks and bonds may find MLDs very attractive. It would be wise to note that through indexing returns to various underlying assets, MLDs make investment exposure to diversified options, thereby spreading out the risk.

  • Tax-Efficient Investing: MLDs can provide a taxation-friendly way for generating returns for high-tax-bracket investors, compared to regular interest income, based on specific tax norms relating to MLDs enacted at any point in time.

  • Sophisticated Investors: MLDs commit to sophisticated investors who look for tailored investment products that can be structured within an independent framework to achieve certain risk-return objectives or protection against market volatility.

Section 50AA of Income Tax Act: Tax Implications for Investors

The major impact on investors after the Finance Act, 2023 has been brought by the introduction of Section 50AA in the Income Tax Act. Particularly relating to incidence of taxation on capital gains arising from the transfer, redemption, or maturity of MLDs. These changes are important to be understood by any investor who wants to effectively manage his/her tax liabilities. Following is the detailed analysis of this new provision:

Key Features of Section 50AA under Finance Act 2023

  1. Classification as Short-Term Capital Gains: The capital gain arising on the transfer, redemption, or maturity of MLDs, irrespective of the period for which it was held, would be now considered STCG. A gain is typically a long-term capital gain if a financial instrument is held for longer than 36 months. For financial assets, it's longer than the span of 12 months. This makes a difference in how the given gain is taxed and can drive strategy for investment.

  1. Implications of STCG:

  • Tax Rate: STCG is taxed as per the individual's income tax slab rates. Effectively, this could be at a considerable rate compared with the long-term capital gains tax rate that is mostly at a fixed rate, 20% with indexation for some assets. This could mean a pretty large tax liability for investors in higher tax brackets.

  • No Benefit of Indexation: Whereas in the case of long-term capital gains, the benefit of indexation is available by which the cost of acquisition gets inflated and thus reduces the taxable gain; it is not so in the case of short-term gains.

  1. STT Not Available as Deduction:

  • The other important limb of Section 50AA is that any STT paid related to such debentures will not be allowed as a deduction while computing capital gains. STT is normally a small but additional cost on transactions involving securities traded on stock exchanges.

  • Impact on Net Returns: The inability to deduct STT means that the effective tax burden could increase. Hence reduce the net returns from investments in market-linked debentures.

Section 50AA of Income Tax Act: Compliance and Reporting Requirements

Section 50AA of the Income Tax Act provides certain compliance and reporting requirements for a taxpayer dealing with capital gains arising out of market-linked debentures and specified mutual funds. Here is what investors need to know about the compliance and reporting requirements under Section 50AA:

Key Compliance Requirements

Maintenance of Proper Records:

  • Investors should maintain adequate and comprehensive records of all the transactions in market-linked debentures, which should indicate the date and cost of each acquisition, the date of each sale or redemption, and the amount, which has been received

  • Evidence would also be provided that the related STT had been paid although it cannot be allowed as a deduction from capital gains

Computation of Capital Gains:

  • Section 50AA provides that irrespective of the holding of the asset that is transferred or redeemed or matured, the gains that arise from transfer redemption or maturity of MLDs will be treated as short-term capital gain only.

  • Investors have to calculate capital gains by deducting the cost of acquisition from the value of sale or redemption. Remember that cost of acquisition should not include indexation or STT paid.

Reporting Requirements

  • Filing Income Tax Returns:

  • The capital gains removable under Section 50AA shall be declared in the annual income tax returns.

  • Taxpayers are required to use the appropriate schedules in the tax return forms while filing returns of income to declare the short-term capital. This is largely done in Schedule CG of the ITR forms.

  • Disclosure of Securities:

  • It should clearly show in the tax return the details regarding the nature of MLDs sold, redeemed, or matured during the tax year, with information on the date of its acquisition and amount(s) sold.

  • Tax Payment:

  • Since the gains are to be treated as short-term, the same shall be taxed at applicable slab rates of income tax of the taxpayer.

  • The investors have to ensure that the due amount of tax against such gains is paid on or before the last date of filing of income tax returns to avoid charging of interest and penalties.

  • Advance Tax Requirements:

  • If the aggregate tax payable on the income estimated by an assessee like, in this case, including such capital gains comes to more than INR 10,000 during a financial year, he shall pay advance tax on the same in the manner and at the times prescribed by the Income Tax Department.

  • Treatment of TDS:

  • In cases where TDS is applicable, it should be declared in the return. Though TDS may not be common with MLDs, if they occur, should be reported appropriately.

Section 50AA of Income Tax Act: Strategic Tax Planning Using Section 50AA

Section 50AA of the Income Tax Act, dealing with the taxation of capital gains from MLDs and other specified financial instruments, introduces new dimensions to the investor. With this stipulation in the section that all capital gains from MLDs shall be treated as STCG, irrespective of holding period, effective tax planning is essential. Given this scenario, here's how investors can plan their taxes more strategically in the light of Section 50AA:

Timing of Sales or Redemptions

  1. Factors to Considered at the End of the Financial Year

  • If you think you are going to have a lower income in the next financial year, it may be advisable to defer the sale or redemption of MLDs to that year to utilize the lower tax slab rates.

  • On the other hand, in case your income is likely to increase in the coming year, it will be more sensible to realize gains in the current year. 

  1. Loss Harvesting: If you have any other investments that are in a loss position, consider selling them in the same year you have gains on your MLDs. This will allow you to take advantage of something called loss harvesting: Selling some of your losing investments can offset your gains with losses, which can reduce your taxable income.

Use of Tax Deductions and Credits

  1. Maximize Deductions: First, ensure that you are availing of all deductions possible under sections 80C, 80D, etc., so as to bring down your gross taxable income as much as possible since the STCG might have increased your tax bracket.

  2. Checking Other Investment Alternatives: It helps to reduce overall taxable income and thus minimizes the tax impact of STCG from MLDs by investing in such tax-saving instruments, which provide deductions under the Income-tax Act.


Q1. What is Section 50AA of the Income Tax Act?

Section 50AA deals with the charging of capital gains arising from the transfer, redemption, or maturity of Market Linked Debentures (MLDs) and specified mutual funds to income tax. It provides that such gains shall be treated as STCG, irrespective of the actual holding period.

Q2. How are capital gains under Section 50AA taxed?

The capital gains under Section 50AA are treated as short-term capital gains. Hence they would be added to the total income and would be taxed at applicable income tax slab rates.

Q3. Does the holding period impact the taxation under Section 50AA?

No, the period of holding the MLDs or such mutual funds does not affect the taxation under this Section 50AA. All capital gains would be considered as short-term.

Q4. Can STT be deducted under Section 50AA?

No, the STT paid on such transactions cannot be deducted while computing the capital gains.

Q5. What type of securities are covered under Section 50AA?

Section 50AA specifically mentions only market-linked debentures and other similar financial instruments that may be specified. The types of mutual funds or other securities to be covered would be defined in the rules or notifications issued under the said section.

Q6. Whether there are any specific reporting requirements for gains under Section 50AA?

Yes, in your income tax return, gains from securities under Section 50AA have to be reported as short-term capital gains. Detailed transaction records should also be maintained for reporting purposes and compliance.

Q7. How can an investor offset the tax liability from gains under Section 50AA?

These gains can be set off against capital losses from other investments qualifying as short-term losses. Effective planning of deductions and other tax credits will really help reduce overall tax liability.

Q8. What if I do not comply with Section 50AA?

Failure to comply with Section 50AA can result in penalties and interest on unpaid taxes. The gains should, therefore, be reported and paid accurately as required by the section.

Q9. Are losses made from MLDs under Section 50AA carried forward?

Yes, short-term capital losses arising from investments covered under Section 50AA would be eligible to be carried forward to future years for setting off against prospective capital gains subject to the general provisions relating to set-off and carry forward of losses.

Q10. Where can one get the details of Section 50AA of the Income Tax Act?

Details on Section 50AA can be more readily available on the website of the Income Tax Department. Consult a tax professional who has the acumen and knows the latest in changes and amendments.

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