Tax Incentives given to start-ups in Union Budget 2019-20. carried forward and set off of losses, relaxation of conditions of section 54GB
Section 79 of the Income Tax Act provides conditions for carry forward and set off of losses in case of a company not being a company in which the public are substantially interested. Clause (a) of the section applies to all such companies, except an eligible start-up as referred to in section 80-IAC, while clause (b) applies only to such eligible start-up.
Under clause (a), no loss incurred in any year prior to the previous year shall be carried forward and set off against the income of the previous year, unless on the last day of the previous year, the shares of the company carrying not less than fifty-one per cent of the voting power were beneficially held by persons who beneficially held shares of the company carrying not less than fifty-one per cent of the voting power on the last day of the year or years in which the loss was incurred.
Under clause (b), the loss incurred in any year prior to the previous year shall be carried forward and set off against the income of the previous year, if, all the shareholders of such company who held shares carrying voting power on the last day of the year or years in which the loss was incurred, continue to hold those shares on the last day of such previous year and such loss has been incurred during the period of seven years beginning from the year in which such company is incorporated. The said clause was inserted vide Finance Act, 2017 in order to facilitate ease of doing business and to promote start-up India.
To further facilitate ease of doing business in the case of an eligible start-up, it is proposed to amend section 79 so as to provide that loss incurred in any year prior to the previous year, in the case of closely held eligible start-up, shall be allowed to be carried forward and set off against the income of the previous year on satisfaction of either of the two conditions stipulated currently at clause (a) or clause (b).
For other closely held companies, there would be no change, and loss incurred in any year prior to the previous year shall be carried forward and set off only on satisfaction of condition currently provided at clause (a).
The existing provisions of the section 54GB of the Income-tax Act, inter alia, provide for roll over benefit in respect of capital gain arising from the transfer of a long-term capital asset, being a residential property owned by the eligible assessee. To be able to get benefit of this provision, the assessee is required to utilise the net consideration for subscription in the equity shares of an eligible company before the due date of filing of the return of income. The assessee is required to have more than fifty per cent share capital or more than fifty per cent voting rights after the subscription in shares in the eligible company. The said section, inter alia, puts restriction on transfer of assets acquired by the company for five years from the date of acquisition.
Currently the benefit of this section was only available for investment in the equity shares of eligible start-ups and that period also got over on 31st March 2019. Thus, at present no benefit is available for residential property transferred after 31st March 2019.
In order to incentivise investment in eligible start-ups, it is proposed to amend the said section so as to-
(i) extend the sun set date of transfer of residential property for investment in eligible start-ups from 31st March 2019 to 31st March 2021;
(ii) relax the condition of minimum shareholding of fifty per cent of share capital or voting rights to twenty five per cent.
(iii) relax the condition restricting transfer of new asset being computer or computer software from the current five years to three years.
This amendment will take effect from 1st April, 2020 and will, accordingly, apply in relation to the assessment year 2020-21 and subsequent assessment years.