The Finance Minister, in paragraph 89 of his speech, while presenting the Union Budget, 2007-08, had announced that the National Housing Bank (NHB) will introduce a reverse mortgage scheme for senior citizens.
In the context of the aforesaid scheme, it was necessary to resolve the tax issues arising there-from. The first issue is whether mortgage of property for obtaining a loan under the reverse mortgage scheme is transfer within the meaning of the Income-tax Act thereby giving rise to capital gains. Section 2(47) of the Income-tax Act provides an inclusive definition of ‘transfer’. Further, ‘transfer’ within the meaning of the Transfer of Properties Act includes some types of mortgage. Therefore, a mortgage of property, in certain cases, is a transfer within the meaning of section 2(47) of the Income-tax Act. Consequently, any gain arising upon mortgage of a property may give rise to capital gains under section 45 of the Income-tax Act. However, in the context of a reverse mortgage, the intention is to secure a stream of cash flow against the mortgage of a residential house and not to alienate the property.
A new clause (xvi) in section 47 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 has been inserted to provide that any transfer of a capital asset in a transaction of reverse mortgage under a scheme made and notified by the Central Government shall not be regarded as a transfer.
The second issue is whether the loan, either in lump sum or in instalment, received under a reverse mortgage scheme amounts to income. Receipt of such loan is in the nature of a capital receipt. Section 10 of the Income tax Act, 1961 has been amended to provide that any amount received by an individual as a loan, either in lump-sum or in installment, in a transaction of reverse mortgage referred to in clause (xvi) of Section 47 of the Income-tax act shall not be included in total income.
A borrower, under a reverse mortgage scheme, shall, however, be liable to income tax (in the nature of tax on capital gains) only at the point of alienation of the mortgaged property by the mortgagee for the purposes of recovering the loan.