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Dividend Tax: Tax on Dividend Income

Updated on: 16 Jan, 2024 05:49 PM

The dividend is an income that you receive if you invest in shares or mutual funds. Many shares and mutual fund schemes distribute the earned returns to investors as dividends. Since dividends received are a type of income, many of you wonder whether such dividends would be taxed in your hands or not. Let’s, therefore, understand the incidence of tax on dividend income in detail.

What is Dividend Income?

A dividend usually refers to the distribution of profits by a company to its shareholders. If you are the one who invests in stocks, ULIPs, or mutual funds, you will receive a dividend. However, in view of Section 2(22) of the Income-tax Act, the dividend shall also include the following:

  • Distribution of accumulated profits to shareholders entailing release of the company's assets;
  • Distribution of debentures or deposit certificates to shareholders out of the accumulated profits of the company and issue of bonus shares to preference shareholders out of accumulated profits;
  • Distribution made to shareholders of the company on its liquidation out of accumulated profits;
  • Distribution to shareholders out of accumulated profits on the reduction of capital by the company;
  • Loan or advance made by a closely held company to its shareholder out of accumulated profits.

Source of dividend

You can receive dividends from the following sources –

  • From a domestic company in whose shares you have invested
  • From a foreign company in whose shares you have invested
  • From equity mutual funds if you have chosen the dividend option
  • From debt mutual funds if you have chosen the dividend option

Depending on the source of dividend income, relevant tax incidence would be applicable. So, let’s understand the tax implication on the above-mentioned sources of income independently.


Tax on Dividend Income

Previously i.e, up to Assessment Year 2020-21, if a shareholder gets a dividend from a domestic company then he shall not be liable to pay any tax on such dividend as it is exempt from tax under section 10(34) of the Act subject to Section 115BBDA which provides for taxability of dividend more than Rs. 10 lakh. However, in such cases, the domestic company is liable to pay a Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) under section 115-O.

The Finance Act, 2020 has abolished the DDT and moved to the classical system of taxation wherein dividends are taxed in the hands of the investors. So now, dividend income will become taxable in the hands of taxpayers irrespective of the amount received at applicable income tax slab rates.

Taxability of dividend will depend upon whether the dividend receiver deals in securities either as a trader or as an investor. The income earned by the person from the trading activities is taxable under the head business income. Thus, if shares are held for trading purposes then the dividend income shall be taxable under the head income from business or profession.

Whereas, if shares are held as an investment then income arising in the nature of dividend shall be taxable under the head of income from other sources.

Where the dividend is assessable to tax as business income, the assessee can claim the deductions of all those expenditures which have been incurred to earn that dividend income such as collection charges, interest on loan, etc. Whereas if the dividend is taxable under the head of income from other sources, the assessee can claim a deduction of only interest expenditure which has been incurred to earn that dividend income to the extent of 20% of total dividend income. No deduction shall be allowed for any other expenses including commission or remuneration paid to a banker or any other person for the purpose of realising such dividend.


Tax rates on Dividend Income

Tax Rates on dividend depends upon the type of assessee receiving dividend and the instrument on which dividend is distributed. This can be easily understandable via the following table:-

Category of Assessee Dividend nature Rate of Tax
Resident Dividend received from domestic company Normal rate of tax applicable to the assessee
NRI Dividend on GDR of Indian co./PSU (purchased in foreign currency) 10%
NRI Dividend on shares of Indian co.(purchased in foreign currency) 20%
NRI Any other Dividend income 20%
FPI Dividend on securities other than 115AB 20%
Investment Division of offshore banking unit Dividend on securities other than 115AB 10%

When to Tax Dividend Income?

Section 8 of the Act provides that the final dividend, including the deemed dividend, shall be taxable in the year in which it is declared, distributed, or paid by the company, whichever is earlier. Whereas an interim dividend is taxable in the previous year in which the amount of such dividend is unconditionally made available by the company to the shareholder. In other words, an interim dividend is chargeable to tax on a receipt basis.


TDS on Dividend Income

As per Section 194, TDS shall be applicable to dividends distributed, declared, or paid on or after 01-04-2020; an Indian company shall deduct tax at the rate of 10% from dividend distributed to the resident shareholders if the aggregate amount of dividend distributed or paid during the financial year to a shareholder exceeds Rs. 5,000. However, no tax shall be required to be deducted from the dividend paid or payable to Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC), or any other insurer in respect of any shares owned by it or in which it has full beneficial interest.

However, where the dividend is payable to a non-resident or a foreign company, the tax shall be deducted under Section 195 in accordance with the relevant DTAA


Old vs. New provision for taxability of dividend income

  • Exemption Until March 31, 2020 (FY 2019-20): Until March 31, 2020, dividends received from Indian companies were exempt from income tax in the hands of the investor/shareholder. This exemption was because the company declaring the dividend was already liable to pay Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) before making the payment to shareholders.
  • Change in Dividend Taxation (Effective April 1, 2020): The Finance Act, 2020 brought about a fundamental change in the taxation of dividends. Starting from April 1, 2020 (FY 2020-21), all dividends received by investors/shareholders from Indian companies are taxable in the hands of the recipient. This means that individuals, Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs), and firms are now responsible for paying tax on the dividends they receive.
  • Withdrawal of DDT Liability on Companies and Mutual Funds: With the change in dividend taxation, the liability of paying Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) by companies and mutual funds was withdrawn. Instead, the tax on dividends shifted to the individual, HUF, or firm receiving the dividend income.
  • Withdrawal of 10% Tax on Dividend Receipts in Excess of Rs 10 Lakh: The Finance Act, 2020 also withdrew the provision of taxing dividends received by resident individuals, HUFs, and firms at a rate of 10% if the dividend income exceeded Rs 10 lakh (Section 115BBDA). This means that there is no specific tax rate applied to dividend income in excess of Rs 10 lakh; it is now taxed as per the individual's applicable income tax slab rates.

Advance Tax and Dividend Income

If the shortfall in the advance tax installment or the failure to pay the same on time is on account of dividend income, no interest under section 234C shall be charged provided the assessee has paid full tax in subsequent advance tax installments. However, this benefit shall not be available in respect of the deemed dividend as referred to in Section 2(22)(e)


Double Taxation Relief

Though any dividend received from a foreign company is taxable in India if it has also been taxed in the country where the foreign company operates, there is a case of double taxation. In these cases, you can claim relief on double taxation. You can claim the relief as per the provisions of the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA), which the Indian Government has with the Governments of other countries. If the agreement is not available, you can also claim relief under Section 91 of the Income Tax Act and avoid paying double taxes on the same income.

As per most of the DTAAs India has entered into with foreign countries, the dividend is taxable in the source country in the hands of the beneficial owner of shares at a rate ranging from 5% to 15% of the gross amount of the dividends. In DTAA with countries like Canada, Denmark, and Singapore, the dividend tax rate is further reduced where the dividend is payable to a company that holds a specific percentage (generally 25%) of shares of the company paying the dividend. However, no minimum time limit has been prescribed in these DTAAs for which such shareholding should be maintained by the recipient company. Therefore, MNCs were often found misusing the provisions by increasing their shareholding in the company, declaring immediately before the declaration of the dividend, and offloading the same after getting the dividend.


Inter-corporate Dividend

From AY 2020-21, the taxability of dividends has been shifted from companies to shareholders. Therefore, the Government has introduced a new section 80M under the Act to remove the cascading effect where a domestic company receives a dividend from another domestic company.

However, nothing has been prescribed where a domestic company receives a dividend from a foreign company and further distributes the same to its shareholders. The taxability in such cases shall be as under:

  • Domestic co. receives a dividend from another domestic co.
    The provisions of section 80M remove the cascading effect by providing that intercorporate dividend shall be reduced from the total income of the company receiving the dividend if the same is further distributed to shareholders one month prior to the due date of filing of return.
  • Domestic co. receives a dividend from a foreign co.
    Dividend received by a domestic company from a foreign company, in which such domestic company has 26% or more equity shareholding, is taxable at a rate of 15% plus Surcharge and Health and Education Cess under Section 115BBD. Such tax shall be computed on a gross basis without allowing a deduction for any expenditure.
    Dividend received by a domestic company from a foreign company, in which equity shareholding of such domestic company is less than 26%, is taxable at the normal tax rate. The domestic company can claim a deduction for any expense incurred by it for the purposes of earning such dividend income.

Need help with your dividend income and tax-related matters? Hire an eCA now for a seamless and easy e-filing of your Income Tax Return (ITR). Get expert assistance and ensure accurate tax computations.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q- What is the frequency of dividend payments?

Dividends can be paid daily, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually depending on the company or the mutual fund house paying the dividend.


Q- Do I need to pay tax on dividends?

Up to Assessment Year 2020-21, if a shareholder gets a dividend from a domestic company, then he shall not be liable to pay any tax on such dividend as it is exempt from tax under section 10(34) of the Act. However, in such cases, the domestic company is liable to pay a Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) under Section 115-O.

But after Finance Act, of 2020, DDT has abolished the DDT and moved to the classical system of taxation wherein dividends are taxed in the hands of the investors. So, Yes assessee needs to pay tax on dividend income.


Q- Are dividends considered income?

Yes, dividends are considered an income under the Income Tax Act


Q- What does DDT mean?

DDT or Dividend Distribution Tax is required to be paid by the companies on the dividends they issue. As per Budget 2020 speech, no Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) shall be paid by the Companies from FY 2020-21.


Q- What is the DDT full form in tax?

DDT means the Dividend Distribution Tax which is required to be paid by the companies on dividend distribution.


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CA Abhishek Soni
CA Abhishek Soni

Abhishek Soni is a Chartered Accountant by profession & entrepreneur by passion. He is the co-founder & CEO of Tax2Win.in. Tax2win is amongst the top 25 emerging startups of Asia and authorized ERI by the Income Tax Department. In the past, he worked in EY and comes with wide industry experience from telecom, retail to manufacturing to entertainment where he has handled various national and international assignments.