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News: Two flats merged into one must get tax exemption: Bombay HC-July 16, 2014

MUMBAI: If two adjacent flats are bought from different people through two agreements and then converted into a single unit with a common kitchen, then the owner is exempt from paying capital gains tax, the Bombay high court has said.
 
The HC upheld the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) order that went in favour of a Juhu resident, Devdas Naik. In 2007-08, he sold a bungalow for Rs 3 crore and bought three flats —one in his name, the second one jointly owned by him and his wife and the third in his wife's name. Naik claimed exemption for two of the flats, which are located adjacent to each other, saying they were used as one contiguous unit. He also said the size of each flat was around 500 sq ft and so, they had to be combined to utilize them as one unit. The flats involved were the 
 
one registered in his name and the one jointly held by his wife. But the income tax department said Naik was not eligible for the exemption as they considered one flat as a residential unit and not two flats, even if they were located side-by-
side. Refuting the argument, the HC said that the general as well as the internal layout plans of the flats indicated that there was only one common kitchen; the apartments were built in 
such a way that the adjacent units could be combined into one.
 
The Income Tax Act grants relief in capital gains tax if investments are done within specified norms. The department's contention was upheld by the commissioner. But the commissioner in charge of the appeals differed: "There is uniformity of judicial opinion to the effect that where several self-contained dwelling units, which are contiguous and situated in the same compound and within common boundaries and having unity of structure could be regarded as one house." All the flats in the building were built in such a way that two adjacent flats can be combined into one unit.
 
ITAT said, " Without prejudice, even if the appellant had made an investment in two or more separate units and combined them together for the purpose of using it as single dwelling unit with common entries, living area and kitchen, investment in two or more such units would also qualify for claiming deduction ..."
 
Source : The Times of India         Posted by JasCon.- Making Real Estate Easy