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Budget 2021: Tax holiday for affordable housing under Section 80IBA extended for another year

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The announcement is likely to increase the supply of affordable housing units in the market

In a move that could incentivize the construction of affordable homes in India, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on February 1, 2021, extended the scope of the tax holiday provided to affordable housing projects. By way of inserting Section 80IBA in the Income Tax Act in the Budget 2016, the government had earlier allowed real estate developers to claim a full tax deduction on profits earned through the sale of affordable housing projects.  With the announcement in Budget 2021, the scope of the section has been extended till March 31, 2022.

“To keep up the supply of affordable houses, I propose that affordable housing projects can avail a tax holiday for one more year – till March 31, 2022,” the FM said in her Budget speech.

According to property brokerage firm JLL India, the extension would ensure continued interest from developers towards affordable housing projects and help the government achieve its Housing for All by 2022 mission. Nearly one-third of the newly-launched projects across India’s top seven markets catered to the affordable housing segment in 2020 and this proportion was only expected to increase, the brokerage firm said.

Data available with Housing.com show that a total of 1,22,426 units were launched in 2020, which was only half the new supply that filled the market in 2019.  This announcement might result in a spike in supply numbers in 2021. Also, units in the sub-Rs 45-lakh category were the largest contributor to the overall supply, with nearly 54% contribution to the overall supply in the October-December period of 2020. The share of the affordable segment might increase significantly, in the ongoing and following quarters, because of the latest extension.

However, the affordable segment also contributes the highest to the national unsold stock, with 48% units of the current stock coming from this segment, data show.  This is the reason why the government has also extended, by one year, the tax rebate offered under Section 80EEA in the Budget 2021.

Section 80IBA affordable housing scheme: Changes in Budget 2020

The Union Budget 2020, in continuation to the changes it made in last year’s budget, has extended the tax holiday, for developers to avail of the benefits with respect to projects approved on or after September 1, 2019, under Section 80IBA

September 23, 2019: In order to give an impetus to the ‘Housing for All by 2022’ mission, the budget of 2016 had inserted Section 80IBA in the Income Tax Act. The benefits to developers, for obtaining approvals for projects under this section, would have come to an end on March 31, 2019. The benefits under Section 80IBA were extended till March 31, 2020, in the Interim Budget 2019. The finance minister, while presenting the full-fledged budget, has changed some of the conditions for availing of the benefits, with respect to the projects approved on or after September 1, 2019. Let us discuss the law, as applicable to projects approved before September 1, 2019, and those approved on or after this cut-off date.

What is Section 80IBA of the Income Tax Act?

All the projects approved and meeting the conditions prescribed under Section 80IBA, are entitled to claim a deduction of 100% of the profits, with respect to the project approved. This benefit is available, only if the concerned housing project has been approved between June 1, 2016 and March 31, 2020. The time period prescribed here, is applicable for obtaining the approvals for the project and not for commencement of the construction, or completion of construction for the project.

Eligibility for Section 80IBA deduction

There are certain conditions that the developer has to satisfy, for availing the benefit of 100% tax-free income. Some of the conditions prescribed for projects approved under this section remain unchanged, irrespective of whether the project is approved before or after September 1, 2019:

  • The carpet area of the commercial establishment in the project, should not exceed 3% of the aggregate of carpet area of the project.
  • The projects are required to be completed within five years, from the date of the approval of the authority concerned.
  • The approval is deemed to have been granted when the plan is first approved, irrespective of the number of times the same has been revised later on.
  • The project, for the purpose of availing of the benefits, is deemed to have been completed when the certificate of completion has been obtained in writing, from the approving authority of the area. So, if the developer is not able to obtain the completion certificate before completion of five years, he will not be entitled to this deduction, and the deduction if any claimed in earlier years, shall be reversed and will become taxable in the year in which the period of five years expires.
  • There can be only one project on the plot of land earmarked for the housing project.
  • Only one flat can be allotted to one family comprising of the husband, wife, and minor children.
  • The developer has to maintain separate books of accounts for the housing project, for availing of the deduction under this section.

Amendments in Section 80IBA

However, certain conditions have been modified for projects approved after September 1, 2019, as compared to the conditions prescribed for projects approved before September 1, 2019. These relate to the area of the plot and the area of the dwelling units to be constructed.

Area of the unit and plot

As far as the area of the plot of land for the housing project is concerned, for projects that are approved before September 1, 2019, the size of the plot of land should be a minimum of 1,000 sq metres for projects situated within the municipal limits of the four metro cities and a minimum of 2,000 sq metres for projects in the rest of India. According to the new scheme, the area of Delhi and Mumbai have been expanded, to include the entire National Capital Region (NCR) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), respectively. Additionally, the new scheme includes Bengaluru and Hyderabad within the ambit of metro cities, for the purpose of minimum size of the plot of land, on which the eligible housing project can be undertaken.

For projects approved prior to September 1, 2019, the law provides for a cap on the carpet area of the dwelling unit to be constructed, for qualifying as an eligible project. For metro cities, the limit was set at 30 sq meters and for the rest of India, it was set at 60 sq meters. The maximum size of the unit that can be constructed has been raised to 60 sq meters and 90 sq meters, for metros and non-metros, respectively. The cities to be included in both the categories have been revised on the lines as discussed above, for the purpose of determining the eligible size of the plot of land on which this project is to be constructed. So, with this amendment, the supply of dwellings of a reasonable size, will increase in metro cities, as well as other places in India.

Price of the affordable housing unit

There was no monetary limit prescribed under the earlier scheme, for the value of the dwelling units to be constructed. However, since the Good and Services Tax has defined what an affordable house is, the same definition has been borrowed here and made applicable for projects approved on or after September 1, 2019 and before March 31, 2020. Now, the maximum value of the house to be constructed for being eligible under this section, for projects approved after September 1, 2019, shall be restricted to Rs 45 lakhs as per the stamp duty rates, irrespective of the rate at which the developer sells them to the customers. This amendment of putting a cap on the monetary value of the house, will adversely affect the residents of metro cities, especially cities like Mumbai as it is almost impossible for one to get a residential flat in the municipal limits of Mumbai at this price, although such units may be available in other cities of the MMR. Nevertheless, this may help the government to decongest the already congested metro cities.

FSI utilization

For projects under this section, there is a requirement that at a minimum of 90% of the available FSI should be used for plots in metro cities and 80% of the available FSI should be used for plots in non-metro cities, for projects approved prior to September 1, 2019. The same provision shall continue to apply for projects approved on or after September 1, 2019. However, the definition of metro and non-metro cities, shall be as per the revised definitions, as explained above.

In the final analysis, the window for approval of new projects is a very small period of seven months, which is not sufficient for a developer to plan the project, apply and get the necessary approvals within this period.

Source – https://housing.com/news/section-80iba-proposed-changes-in-budget-2019-and-benefits-to-affordable-housing-developers/

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