The Indian Income Tax Act stipulates the conditions under which a salaried employee can claim tax rebate on interest payment on housing loan. Section 24 of the Income Tax Act states that no tax benefit is permissible on interest payment during the years in which construction of the house property is still to be completed. Interest paid during the construction period is eligible for deduction in 5 equal installments (across 5 years) from the year construction is completed.
What about tax rebate on account of principal repayment? When the property, for which a loan has been taken, is under construction, can an employee claim tax benefit under Section 80C for principal repayment?
Some payroll managers are of the view that Section 80C doesn’t prohibit tax benefit on account of principal repayment when the property is under construction. After all, there is no explicit reference to completion of construction or taking possession of the property in the text of Section 80C. Hence, is it not fine to claim tax benefit on principal repayment under Section 80C even when the house property is under construction?
Not quite. A close look at Section 80C suggests that tax rebate on principal repayment may not be admissible when the property is under construction.
The relevant clause under Section 80C(2)(xviii) is presented as follows.
(xviii) for the purposes of purchase or construction of a residential house property the income from which is chargeable to tax under the head “Income from house property” (or which would, if it had not been used for the assessee’s own residence, have been chargeable to tax under that head), where such payments are made towards or by way of—
(a) any instalment or part payment of the amount due under any self-financing or other scheme of any development authority, housing board or other authority engaged in the construction and sale of house property on ownership basis; or
(b) any instalment or part payment of the amount due to any company or co-operative society of which the assessee is a shareholder or member towards the cost of the house property allotted to him; or
(c) repayment of the amount borrowed by the assessee from—
(1) the Central Government or any State Government, or
(2) any bank, including a co-operative bank, or
(3) the Life Insurance Corporation, or
(4) the National Housing Bank, or
(5) any public company formed and registered in India with the main object of carrying on the business of providing long-term finance for construction or purchase of houses in India for residential purposes which is eligible for deduction under clause (viii) of sub-section (1) of section 36, or
(6) any company in which the public are substantially interested or any co-operative society, where such company or co-operative society is engaged in the business of financing the construction of houses, or
(7) the assessee’s employer where such employer is an authority or a board or a corporation or any other body established or constituted under a Central or State Act, or
(8) the assessee’s employer where such employer is a public company or a public sector company or a university established by law or a college affiliated to such university or a local authority or a co-operative society; or
(d) stamp duty, registration fee and other expenses for the purpose of transfer of such house property to the assessee,
but shall not include any payment towards or by way of—
(A) the admission fee, cost of share and initial deposit which a shareholder of a company or a member of a co-operative society has to pay for becoming such shareholder or member; or
(B) the cost of any addition or alteration to, or renovation or repair of, the house property which is carried out after the issue of the completion certificate in respect of the house property by the authority competent to issue such certificate or after the house property or any part thereof has either been occupied by the assessee or any other person on his behalf or been let out; or
(C) any expenditure in respect of which deduction is allowable under the provisions of section 24;
Clause (xviii) stated above suggests that any payment (including principal repayment of housing loan) for the purpose of purchase or construction of a residential house property the income from which is chargeable to tax under the head “Income from house property” can be considered for tax benefit under Section 80C.
In other words, for consideration under Section 80C, the property should be capable of generating income (real or notional) which is chargeable under the head “Income from house property.” Section 22 and 23 of the Income Tax Act present the introduction to income from house property and determination of the annual value of a house property.
When a house property is under construction, there is no likelihood of income, and hence under Section 80C there is no provision for tax rebate on account of principal repayment. Only in the year in which the construction is completed can the principal repayment be considered for tax benefit.
What about stamp duty and registration fee?
The above rule is applicable to not only principal repayment but also stamp duty and registration charges. Such charges cannot be considered for tax benefit under Section 80C as long as the property is under construction.
Please note that stamp duty and registration charges can be considered for Section 80C benefit even in the absence of housing loan as long as the construction/possession of the house property is complete/taken.