Leasehold rights on land play a crucial role in various real estate transactions and business operations. Many units are set up on leasehold land provided by state industrial development corporation.

What Is Assignment Of Leasehold Rights?

  • The assignment of leasehold rights on land refers to the transfer of the leasehold interest or rights from one party to another.
  • It involves the transfer of the rights and obligations associated with a lease agreement from the original lessee (assignor) to a new party (assignee).

Leasehold rights on land typically arise when a lessee enters into a lease agreement with the lessor to use and occupy the land for a specific period, usually for commercial, industrial, or residential purposes. The lessee holds the leasehold rights, which include the right to possess and use the land within the terms and conditions outlined in the lease agreement.

However, there may be situations where the original lessee, for various reasons, decides to transfer or assign their leasehold rights to another party for consideration. This can occur when the lessee wants to exit the lease, restructure their business operations, or transfer the lease to a new owner.

The assignment of leasehold rights involves a formal agreement between the assignor and assignee that outlines the terms of the transfer. The assignor relinquishes their rights and responsibilities as the original lessee, while the assignee assumes those rights and obligations for the remaining lease term.

It is important to note that the assignment of leasehold rights does not necessarily involve the transfer of ownership of the land itself. The assignee steps into the shoes of the original lessee and continues to hold the leasehold interest for the remaining term specified in the lease agreement.

The assignment of leasehold rights on land can have various legal, financial, and operational implications for both the assignor and assignee. It is crucial for all parties involved to carefully review the terms of the lease agreement, understand their rights and obligations, and ensure compliance with any legal or regulatory requirements related to the assignment.

Income Tax Implication

Lease hold rights is a capital asset as per Section 2(14) of the Income Tax Act,1961 and Assignment of lease hold rights falls under definition of transfer u/sec. 2(47) of the Income Tax Act by way of relinquishment of rights in Immovable property.

  • Assignment as discussed herewith results into capital gain tax implication u/sec. 45 of Income Tax Act.
  • Leased Land Property assigned for a consideration is cost of Acquisition for the capital purpose. Holding period of Lease beyond 3 years is considered as long-term Capital Asset and tax rate applicable is 20% plus applicable surcharge and cess. Short term capital Asset has holding period less than 3 years and normal rate of tax would be applicable.
  • Further, since the Lease hold right is neither a Land nor Building, provisions of Section 50C, which deems the Stamp Duty Value as Consideration in case if the actual consideration is less than Stamp Duty Value shall not apply.
  • Further, since the Lease hold right is neither a Land nor Building, provisions of Section 50C, which deems the Stamp Duty Value as Consideration in case if the actual consideration is less than Stamp Duty Value shall not apply.
  • Wherein Capital Gains on Land is liable to be taxed as Long Term Capital Gains and Capital Gains on Structure is liable to tax short term capital gain.
  • Other view is Entire Gains on Transaction is treated as short term capital gain.

GST Implications

The Goods and Services Tax (GST), introduced in India in 2017, has brought significant changes to the taxation system. It is important to understand the implications of GST on the assignment of leasehold rights on land and how it affects different stakeholders involved.

As per Section 7(1) of the CGST Act, 2017, supply” includes:

All forms of supply of goods or services or both, such as sale, transfer, barter, exchange, license, rental, lease or disposal made or agreed to be made for a consideration by a person in the course or furtherance of business.
Thus, under the GST regime, leasehold rights on land can be considered as a supply of services and thereby subject to taxation.

Upfront amount called as premium, salami, cost, price, development charges or by any other name payable in respect of long term lease of 30 years, or more of industrial plots or infrastructure development plots for financial business, provided by the State Government Industrial Development Corporations or Undertakings or by any other entity having 50 % or more ownership of Central Government, State Government, Union territory to the industrial units or the developers in any industrial or financial business area subject to following conditions:

  • the leased plots shall be used for industrial or financial activity in an industrial or financial business area
  • the State Government shall monitor and enforce the condition as per the order issued by the State Government
  • in case of any violation or subsequent change of land use, the original lessor, original lessee as well as any subsequent lessee or buyer or owner shall be jointly and severally liable to pay tax along with the applicable interest and penalty
  • the lease agreement entered shall incorporate in the terms and conditions that the tax was exempted on the long term lease of the plots by the original lessor to the original lessee subject to above condition and the parties to the said agreements undertake to comply with the same.

Thus, GST on assignment of lease hold rights has been classified as exempt only if it falls within the ambit of above entry satisfying all the conditions.

Contradictory View

As per Section 7(2)(a) of the CGST Act 2017 read along with Entry no. 5 of Schedule III, sale of land is treated neither as supply of goods nor as supply of services.

As per the Registration Act 1880, “immovable Property” includes land, buildings, hereditary allowances, rights to ways, lights, ferries, fisheries or any other benefit to arise out of land, and things attached to the earth, or permanently fastened to anything which is attached to the earth, but not standing timber, growing crops nor grass.

As per the General Clauses Act 1897:, “Immovable property’ shall include land, benefits to arise out of land, and things attached to the earth or permanently fastened to anything attached to the earth”.

Leasehold rights can be construed as benefit arising from land, thereby treating the same as Immovable Property or Land itself for the purpose of Registration Act attracting Stamp Duty and registration charges. Thus, as per State Governments, the assignment of leasehold rights on land is considered as a transfer of ownership for state revenue purposes.

Irony created due to non-alignment of definition of Assignment of Lease hold rights under Registration Act and GST leading to double taxation as the individuals or businesses involved in the assignment of leasehold rights on land must comply with both the state revenue requirements, such as stamp duty and the GST obligations.

It is important to note that under the erstwhile service tax regime in India, the assignment of leasehold rights on land was specifically listed as an exempted service. This means that no service tax was applicable on such assignments, regardless of the purpose of the lease (residential, commercial, or industrial). The exemption from service tax on the assignment of leasehold rights was provided to avoid double taxation since the leasehold rights were considered immovable property, and the transfer of immovable property was already subject to other taxes, such as stamp duty.

Burning Issue In MIDC Areas For GST Matter

Thousands of units in Maharashtra including Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur etc have not paid GST on assignment of lease considering this as sale of land and assuming that the exemption under Sr. No. 41 of notification No. 12/2017 dated 28.06.2017 would be available to them. However, it does not cover subsequent transfers of lease premium on assignment of leasehold right.

Also, there are many GST Advance Rulings stating that long term lease cannot be equivalent to sale of land and would be taxable under the GST law, thereby confirming GST on such supply.

Thus, the GST department has also started issuing notices under the CGST Act 2017 on the assignment of lease hold rights charging 18% GST on the total value of the assignment agreement.

While, the State Revenue department is considering this assignment of lease as sale of land and building and thus charging full stamp duty and registration charges accordingly.

The above contradictory views from the GST Laws and State Laws are creating multiplicity of taxes for the same transactions, which should not be viable in the eyes of the law. Thus, the government should hence analyse the situation and take pertinent action on urgent basis.

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