Abolition of Wealth Tax

By replacing the Wealth Tax with a surcharge, the finance minister has not only cut down on unnecessary paper work for the tax-payer, but the government stands to gain substantially.

The abolition of Wealth Tax and increase in surcharge for the superrich has implications for all.

The first budget of the Narendra Modi government saw the abolition of the Wealth Tax, even as it raised the surcharge for the rich by two per cent. This change will benefit/affect all: the government, the middle-class as well the superrich.

The Wealth-Tax Act, 1957, extended to the whole of India till it got abolished in 2015. It was a direct tax, which was charged on the net wealth of the assessee. It was a tax on the benefits derived from ownership of property. The tax was to be paid annually on the same property on its market value, whether or not such property yielded any income.


Till now, an individual, a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) or a company had to pay a wealth tax of one per cent on net wealth (i.e assets minus liabilities) over and above `3 million. After continuing for more than 50 years, the government finally decided to scrap this act.

Wealth tax was replaced by increasing the surcharge on the superrich. A surcharge of 10 per cent was announced in 2013 and in 2015 it has been revised to 12 per cent. The surcharge would be applicable on individuals, HUFs, firms, cooperative societies and local authorities having income exceeding `10 million.

1. The surcharge on all individuals with a taxable income of `10 million and above per annum increases by two per cent

2. Such individuals will have to pay 12 per cent surcharge instead of 10%

3. Firms with annual income of `100 million and above will also pay 12 per cent surcharge

4. Companies with incomes between `10 million and `100 million would be paying a surcharge of seven per cent

With the abolition of Wealth Tax tracking of wealth held by individuals will be done through income tax returns. Information regarding assets that are currently required to be furnished while filing wealth-tax returns will be required to be given while filing income tax. This will ensure that the abolition of wealth tax does not lead to escape of any income from the tax net.


Why was Wealth Tax abolished?
The Wealth Tax was abolished to simplify and widen the tax base. The Act had many issues; for instance, many were not even aware of such a tax and getting assets valued was also a difficult task. Also assets like, jewellery, unaccounted cash and cars are not easy to be tracked.

Collection was also a problem and the tax collected does not form a significant part of the total collection of direct taxes in India. According to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, there was no point continuing with wealth tax as the cost of collection was very high and the yield low.

The change is expected to fetch a surcharge of Rs90 billion against the sacrifice of Rs10.08 billion. And so the smart move of swapping Wealth Tax with a higher tax on the superrich.

For Hassle Free Immigration

Whether it is for study or work or any other reason, it is important to understand the process well for a smooth stay in the country.

By Sangeeta Sinha

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi fulfilling his promise of merging Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards the diaspora can look forward to hassle free travel and assistance from Indian missions around the world. With further promise of introducing electronic authorization for online correspondence with Indian missions, the future looks positive for the economy as well as the pravasis.

Now whether you are an Indian or a foreigner, immigration check is common for all. Make sure that you don’t miss out on any paper work.

Though Indian government does not allow dual citizenship, persons of Indian origin can apply for either Person of Indian Origin (POI) card or Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card. POI scheme was launched much before OCI and both have their own benefits and eligibility. However, with effect from January 2015 POI card notification has been withdrawn and all existing POI card holders have been merged with OCI card holders. Now there is only one OCI card with enhanced benefits.

Foreign Nationals
Foreigners require genuine and valid national passport or any other internationally recognized travel document establishing their nationalities and identities, when they visit India.

Nepal and Bhutan nationals do not need passports to enter India; they need authorized identity proofs. But if they happen to enter India from a place other than their own countries then passport is a must. Pakistan nationals would need visa application forms in addition to regular visa on their passports by the Indian Mission concerned.

As per Emigration Act, Emigration means leaving of India by an Indian citizen with the intent of taking employment in the foreign country.

All Indian passports are divided into two categories –
1. ECR – Emigration Check Required

2. ECNR – Emigration Check Not Required

As per the Emigration Act, 1983, Emigration Check Required (ECR) categories of Indian passport holders, require to obtain ‘Emigration Clearance’ from the office of Protector of Emigrants (POE), Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, for going to following 18 countries -United Arab Emirates (UAE), The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malaysia, Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Brunei, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Syria, Lebanon, Thailand, Iraq (emigration banned).

However effective from 1st October 2007 if you are traveling to any of the above mentioned countries for purposes other than employment, you don’t require emigration clearance.

For passports issued before January 2007 no notation in the passport means ECR while for passports issued after January 2007 no notation in the passport means ECNR. If emigration check is required it will be endorsed in the passport.

Workers going abroad for employment are required get Emigration Check Stamp before leaving India.

The basic idea for ECR is to ensure the safety of Indian citizens with respect to social and legal conditions of some countries.

Immigration check is conducted for all passengers, Indians or foreigners, both at the time of arrival and departure. The passports are duly stamped at the time of arrival as well as departure. Passengers should be careful that their passports are duly stamped before leaving the immigration counter. Foreigners arriving in India are required to fill Arrival Cards while Indians have to fill Departure Cards at the time of Departure.

Foreigners may ensure that they enter India ONLY AFTER an immigration stamp with the correct date is affixed on their passport by the Immigration Officer. Foreigners carrying a valid PIO (Person of Indian Origin) card or OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card along with their valid national passports are authorized to enter India without obtaining Indian visas separately. It is compulsory for foreigners who are OCIs to also carry the passport bearing the OCI ‘U’ visa sticker.

Lease Agreement

A lease agreement does not just document the rules that the landlords and tenants agree to follow in their rental relationship, it works as your address proof and also comes handy in case of any disputes. Make sure that you have not missed out any crucial point.

By Sangeeta Sinha

Whether you need to rent a place or you need to rent out your place, in both scenarios you need to be sure about the terms. So don’t forget to sign the lease agreement.

A lease or rental agreement sets out the rules landlords and tenants agree to follow in their rental relationship. There is no set format for it; it could be handwritten or printed, one page or multiple pages but it should cover the all the basic points of tenancy.

1. Name – The names of both the landlord and the tenant should be mentioned in the agreement.

2. Duration – Duration of the lease must be specified.

3. Rent – The agreement should specify the amount of rent, payment mode and date.

A lease agreement can have terms and conditions mutually agreeable to both the landlord and the tenant. The parties can mutually insert terms and conditions as may be desired by either of the parties to protect their own interest and to prevent them from any future misunderstanding that could potentially lead to disputes, financial losses or litigation.

Repair cost – There should be clarity as to who would be responsible for the expenses incurred during the significant repair work carried out inside the property during the period of the tenant’s stay. This often leads to lot of conflict between the two parties. There could be a clause saying that the tenant will have to return the property to the landlord in the same condition in which the tenant first received it.

Rent Increase – The lease agreement must specifically mention the rent increase clause which would restrict the landlord to increase the rent vaguely; this is in the interest of the tenant. As per the rental legislations, the standard increase in the rent may be 10 per cent every three years or as mutually agreed between the landlord and the tenant. There has to be a notice period mentioned in the agreement which both the landlord as well as the tenant need to follow.

Termination clause – It is essential to specify the termination clause in the lease agreement. The agreement has to clearly specify the circumstances under which the agreement can be terminated. Along with the termination clause it is vital to specify the notice period and the manner in which the termination notice shall be served and the duration of the notice period.

Sub-letting clause – This clause prohibits the tenant from sub-letting the property to a third person. The parties can mutually agree to add this clause.

Security Deposit – The amount that needs to be deposited with the landlord by the tenant as security must be mentioned. The amount of the security deposit is refundable at the time of the termination of the lease agreement. Upon mutually agreed terms and specifying the same in the agreement, the tenant may incur an interest on the deposit in the possession of the landlord.

Other facilities – The terms for usage of other facilities like parking, gym, club house etc. and also if any extra maintenance charges have to be paid should be clearly mentioned. Any other points like restriction on pets etc. may also be mentioned in the agreement.

Lock-in period means neither the landlord nor the tenant can terminate the agreement before the expiry of a certain period. It works for both the parties. The landlord is assured of fixed income for a definite period and the tenant can also have a peaceful possession for a definite time.


There are two kinds of agreements – a lease agreement and a license agreement.

Lease Agreement Leave and License Agreement
The lessee generally gets interest in the property. The licensee does not get any interest in the property.
Lease is an inheritable right. License is not an inheritable right. It is personal and exclusive to the licensee and on death it automatically comes to an end.
Lease holder/lessee can sub-let the premises to a third party, unless the rental agreement has a clause, not allowing such practice. A licensee cannot give the premises on rent to a third party under any circumstances
Lease agreement is not easily terminable and the same requires notice of termination. A license agreement is easier to terminate and the same can be done without serving the notice.
A lease agreement for 12 months or more has to be registered In many states a license agreement needs no registration

Saving to buy a home

Not all expenses of buying a home are covered in the home loan. You need to save the out-of-pocket expenses before you decide to venture into this expensive yet beautiful project. A responsible ownership plan can help you raise the money and move in the right direction.

By Sangeeta Sinha

BUYING a home is an exciting milestone but poses many challenges, the most crucial being saving enough for the down payment. If you decide on a house then five to seven per cent for stamp duty and registration charges plus some miscellaneous charges will be needed.

All these extras may add up to around
INR 1.5 million. It will be a big amount to pay from your pocket. How to raise this fund?


Check your affordability and make a responsible plan for this expensive purchase. Follow the simple rule; if you can’t afford don’t buy. Set a realistic amount based on your financial situation and other responsibilities, like saving for retirement or a child’s education.

Getting a big loan may not be difficult but stick to your original plan. The excitement of a big house may not last long when your EMI takes away most of your income. How much you can afford could depend on several factors like your income, expenses, going interest rate for mortgages, down payment etc.


Once you have reached a realistic price range, the next move would be to plan the down payment target. Down payment is the amount of money you pay out of your pocket, right at the start, towards the purchase of the house. For most buyers the first challenge is to save enough for a down payment.

Typically, banks insist on a minimum margin of 15 per cent; therefore, you should save enough to meet this requirement, says a senior official from a leading bank. For example, if you think the home may cost INR 5 million then you must have `750,000 as down payment.

Now what if you don’t have enough for down payment? Are there loan schemes for 10, five or zero per cent down payments? Such options are usually not available with banks, says a loan expert from banking services. Some Non Banking Finance Companies may offer this but the rate of interest will be much higher. Since we are looking at a 20 to 30 year repayment even a two per cent difference in interest will be substantial, he adds.

It is not prudent to go for lower down payment option on account of the higher cost of borrowing, advises the expert. People buying a house with the aim of selling it for a profit may find this attractive as the appreciation may be greater than the cost of borrowing.


So it is a good idea to plan well and save at least for the down payment. Your saving techniques should depend on how much time you have. If it is two to three years, perhaps a recurring deposit where you put in a fixed amount is suitable. If the house is to be bought five to 10 years later then a mutual fund SIP may be better as the returns may be higher.

Banks also offer personal loans with a repayment of three to four years. This can be a good option for meeting any shortfall in margin money/down payment, advices the official. Since property prices are going up all the time instead of waiting to accumulate enough for down payment one can take a personal loan.

However, opting for personal loans can be an expensive affair, as interest rates are very high. It is always a good idea to pay the down payment from your own money, savings or by liquidating some assets.


When it comes to your mortgage different loan types and payment options that are available can baffle you. You can go for five, 15, 20 or 25-year options. Some banks even offer 30-year options As there is a limited rebate on interest paid on home loans, typically the 20-year option appears to be the best one according to an expert.

You can choose your option based on your repayment capacity. Lower tenure will mean lesser interest payment but a high EMI. Tax rebate will also be available for a lesser period.


Owning a house involves lot of other costs and not just the monthly mortgage payment. You should have enough funds for taxes, insurance, maintenance and even emergency repair fund. Don’t forget the stamp duty and registration fees.

Be sure of your job security and your ability to get a new job quickly in the event of a layoff; in case of any doubt don’t get into such a big liability.


Nowadays builders also offer many options to make your financing easy. Check with your builder if he has any scheme for stage payment. There is also a trend where the builder asks you to pay 20 per cent initially and 80 per cent after possession. In some cases even the EMI (interest part) is taken care of till you take possession. There is also a trend where builders have tie-up with banks where they have schemes like paying some amount at the booking time and rest after completion. Some also offer a holiday scheme where EMI starts after a year after you take possession. So do your home-work well, research and then plunge.


1. Aim for a home you can really afford
2. Ideally you should save and invest towards the goal when it is three to four years away
3. If you have not done that you could look into your fixed deposits or other short term investments
4. You could even borrow against these instruments, if it is difficult to liquidate them
5. Tap into your long-term investments as the last resort
6. Avoid personal loans and credit cards; they carry exorbitant interest rate
7. Explore the option of borrowing against mutual funds, fixed deposits, insurance policies or even jewellery
8. Partial withdrawal can also be considered from your provident fund

Looking Forward to Real Estate Investment Trusts

With SEBI clearing the way for property-backed investment vehicles in 2014, real estate investments are coming within reach of the average citizen.

Real estate, the king of all assets today, requires large investments. In the current pre-ReIT days, people with funds as small as `2 lakh, cannot think of investing in real estate. Nor do individual investors have the wherewithal to perform due diligence for large projects. and when it comes to commercial real estate, they don’t have the means to manage it either.

Enter Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)

By offering shares to the public, ReITs bring lucrative investments in commercial real estate within the reach of the common public. across the world, ReITs have been around for a while now. First created in 1960 in the USa to make large-scale, incomeproducing real estate accessible to regular investors, they have since been established in more than 20 countries.

What are REITs?

Just as mutual funds invest small and large investors’ money in equity and debt, ReITs invest funds in incomegenerating real estate assets. The ReIT could own or finance malls, healthcare facilities, shopping centers, apartments, office buildings, hotels and similar income-generating properties.

Units similar to shares are issued to investors, which are listed on the stock exchange. expected to be launched after Budget 2015, ReITs in India must be listed on the stock exchange and publicly traded.

as per SeBI rules, commercial properties worth a minimum of `500 crore can be pooled and gather investment. at least 80% of the properties must be completed and generate income. ReITs must get registered and then raise funds through an IPO which should not be below `250 crore.

Hybrid REITs

World-over, equity ReITs own income-producing properties and engage in leasing, maintenance and development of the property, whereas mortgage ReITs don’t themselves own the property. They lend money to real estate owners and operators or extend credit indirectly in the form of loan acquisition or mortgagebacked securities.

Hybrid ReITs, which SeBI has introduced, are a combination of equity and mortgage ReITs. as per SeBI norms, ReITs must invest in at least 80% performing assets and a maximum of 20% in under-construction assets, shares, debts or real estate companies and mortgage-backed securities. Yet another rider is that ReITs must invest in at least two projects with the maximum investment in a single project not crossing 60% of the value of assets.

Effect On The Real Estate Industry

Developers stand to benefit since ReITs can free their capital, reducing their debt burden. “ReIT listing would lead to compression in the cap rate, which should lead to better valuation for commercial properties in addition to freeing up of the capital for the developer,” according to an ICICI Direct report.

On the risk side, fresh investments can drive real estate prices upwards. Further, ReITs will be under constant pressure for payouts, leading to rise in rentals. There could be owners who off-load poor-performance properties, hurting individual investors as well as this new investment vehicle.

Still, ReITs are expected to add to the current buoyancy after the sluggish economy and slow real estate movement of the past few years. For investors, it pays to understand the funds before they invest.

Tips to Invest in REITs

• Invest in REITs launched by companies with strong management and good track record
• Limit your REIT investment to 5-10% of your portfolio
• Avoid those that use borrowed capital
• Read the prospectus before you invest
• Understand the nature of the properties in which the REIT has invested