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May not gain from tax benefit extension
August, 06th 2009

The governments decision to extend the time limit for claiming tax exemption on profit earned from projects may not give the desired benefits to real estate developers. Instead of giving benefits to ongoing projects, the government chose to extend a tax waiver to affordable housing projects that were approved till March 31, 2008.

A change in any regulation with retrospective effect doesnt seem to address either the pricing or the supply issue in the real estate sector, said Kumar Gera, chairman, CREDAI, a builders association.

The current provision is unlikely to have any impact on the prices or on the sale of stock. Had it been an exemption for ongoing projects, it would have been an incentive for developers to build more such projects.

Though there is a shortage of 24 million dwelling units in India, there is not enough supply, especially in bigger cities that cater to middle-income segment. Such an announcement would have no impact on the overall sector, said E Sudhir Reddy, chairman, IVR Prime, a south-based developer.

Since projects are already under construction, we will check their eligibility status only when tax is due, said R Nagaraju, corporate strategy planning head at Unitech. For developers, project completion is more important than the checking whether it will benefit from any regulatory change.

As per the new regulation, all projects which were approved by March 31, 2008 against the earlier deadline of March 31, 2007, would be eligible for the benefits of Section 80 IB (10). This section provides tax waiver for a project, which is on a minimum one-acre plot of land and the residential unit, and has a maximum built up area of 1,000 sq ft in Mumbai or Delhi and 1,500 sq ft at any other place. Besides these, there are certain other criteria that need to be fulfilled.

Most builders preferred large units during April 2007 to March 2008, as they were in high demand at that time, said A Shyamsunder, executive director, marketing agency Disha Direct.

All big builders, such as DLF, Unitech, Sobha, Omaxe and Parsvnath, had launched their luxury projects those days. One of the few listed players that had launched mid-housing projects during that time was Indiabulls Real Estate and DLF.

However, experts say that this relaxation could benefit a few developers, but not the entire industry. The overall effect of the announced provisions will only be noticeable in smaller cities, where homes costing below Rs 20 lakh are still procurable. In larger cities such as Mumbai, a flat of 1,000-1,500 sq ft can by no yardstick be considered affordable, said Anuj Puri, chairman, real estate consultancy firm Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj.

 
 
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