‘Hindu Undivided Family’ or ‘Hindu Joint Family’ or Hindu United Family’ is governed by the ‘Hindu Law’ only and it has not been defined under the Income Tax Act. So the concept of HUF can be defined as an extended family arrangement prevalent among Hindus of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of many generations living under the same roof. It means a ‘Family’ that consists of all persons lineally descended from a common ancestor, including wives and unmarried daughters. In other words, a HUF cannot be formed by a group of people who do not constitute a family; lineal descendants with a common ancestor is a must. This means your membership into a HUF does not come from a contract but from your status.
Who are Non-HUFs?
Individuals belonging to other religions are not allowed to form HUF except Jain’s and Sikhs who can create HUF even though they are not governed by the Hindu Law. So, if you are a Parasi, Muslim or Christian cannot get the status of HUF, tough luck.
Players in a HUF
Three entities are extremely important for you to know in HUF are the karta, the coparceners and members.
Karta- He is the person who manages the affairs of the family. Generally, the senior most male member of the family acts as Karta. If he passes away, his wife can become Karta & there can be an all female HUF as well), then sons & daughters, grandsons and great grandsons in order of their first right as 5 years ago brought an amendment by Dr. Manmohan Singh. Coparceners – Coparcener is someone who has the right to demand the share of the property of family; this is what all the male members are referred to as. A Hindu coparcener includes the sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of the holder of the joint family property. By virtue of their birth, they acquire an interest in the property.
Not all members of the HUF are its coparceners. The coparcener extends to four generations down the line family hierarchy in the following manner:
- 1st Generation: Holder of ancestral property for the first time.
- 2nd Generation: Sons and daughters.
- 3rd Generation: Grandsons.
- 4th Generation: Great grandsons.
Members: Unmarried daughter and daughter in law are members: Therefore, a HUF consists of all females in the family are simple treated as members. Daughters born in the family are its members till their marriage and women married into the family are also members of the HUF. They are not coparcener or even spouse are not coparcener and hence can’t demand/ask for any shares in HUF, they are just merely members of HUF.
Creation of HUF
HUF Formation is automatic with marriage – An HUF is automatically constituted with the marriage of a person. No formal action is required to create an HUF. The HUF being the result of birth, possession of joint property is only an appendage of the HUF and is not necessary for its constitution. So, one person cannot form an HUF. Once the coparcener marries, an HUF comes into existence as he along with his wife constitutes a Joint Hindu Family even if they have no child. However, in case a person who wants to specifically register for creating an HUF, he can furnish a creation deed on a stamp paper (optional).
These are the steps to create capital of a HUF.
- First one should open a bank account with the name of Hindu undivided family like “ARVIND HUF” with a stamp, ID Proof and the proof of the members of the family of HUF.
- Important: – While opening a Bank Account in the name of HUF – Banks always ask for a rectangular stamp which states the name of the HUF and also the Karta who is signing it. A round stamp is not accepted as per RBI Circular. The same applies at the time of opening of bank account of Sole Proprietor as well.
- Next is to apply for PAN (Permanent Account Number) of the income tax.
- Now transfer money by gifts etc to HUF capital keeping in view the clubbing provisions and tax on gifts under Income tax act, Remember there is no Tax on gifts in kind though they may attract clubbing provisions in some cases.
It can earn income from ‘Profit from business or profession’, ‘Income from house property’, ‘Capital gain’ and ‘Income from other sources’ except income from salary. All income that arises on the investment of the HUF’s funds and utilisation of its assets is regarded as income and is separately assessed and taxed.
The HUF property may consist of ancestral property, property allotted on partition, property acquired with the aid of joint family property, separate property of a coparcener blended with or thrown into a common family pool.
Branches of HUF
An HUF can consist of several branches or sub-branches. For example, a person with his wife and sons constitutes an HUF. If the sons have wives and children, they also constitute smaller HUFs. If the grandsons also have wives and children, then they also constitute HUFs. It is irrelevant whether the smaller HUFs hold any property. Nucleus property can be acquired by partition of bigger HUF or by gifts from any member of the family or even by a stranger or by will with intention of the donor or the testator that the said gift or bequest will form the HUF property of the donee. An HUF can be composed of a large number of branch families, each of the branch itself being an HUF and so also the sub-branches of more branches.
Forming HUF to Save Taxes
Since, the HUF is a separate entity; the logic behind forming an HUF is to avail the benefit of an additional tax deduction under Sections 80C and 80D, along with the benefit of lower tax slabs. This effectively gives also the kartaan additional basic tax exemption of 2.50 lakh per year. Besides, under the Wealth Tax Act, 1957 too, separate exemptions are available for individual property and HUF property. Similarly, A HUF also enjoys exemptions under Section 54 and Section 54F in respect of capital gains.
Tax Planning Tools for HUF:
- Partition of HUF
The tax liability can be reduced by partition of the HUF. This can be easily done in a case where the partition results in separate independent taxable units. Suppose an HUF consists of father and two sons and there are two business establishments, a house property and other sources of income with the HUF. If the members of the HUF have no other sources of income then partition of the HUF can be done by giving one business establishment to each of the sons, house property to the father and dividing the other sources in such a manner so as to make the partition equitable. Such a partition of HUF will reduce the tax liability considerably.
The position may, however, be different in a case where the members of the HUF have got high individual incomes. In such a case it is not advisable to break or partition the HUF. The HUF should be allowed to continue as a separate taxable unit.
While partition of HUF, assets distribution in the course of partition would not attract any capital gains tax, gift tax liability and clubbing of incomes.
- HUF through Will or Gift
It is now well settled law that there can be a gift or will for the benefit of a Joint Hindu Family .It is immaterial whether the giver is male or female, whether he or she is a member of the family or an outsider. What matters is the intention of the donor that the property given is for the benefit of the family as a whole. Suppose there is an HUF consisting of Karta, his wife, his two sons, daughter-in-law and grand children.
A gift or will can be made for the benefit of the two smaller HUFs of the sons. The bigger HUF will continue as a separate taxable unit even after the death of the Karta. There may also be a case where the father or mother has self acquired properties. They have a son and his family but there is no ancestral property as a corpus of their family. Then, father & mother or both can leave their property for the benefit of their son’s family, through their respective wills.
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