What is a HUF? A HUF is a family of Hindus with a common ancestor. However, the law recognizes a HUF formed by Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs also. The HUF is a separate entity with its own assets, liabilities and income, which is taxed separately.
Members of a HUF- You can form a HUF Trust with your wife, your children, their wives and their children. The head of a HUF is known as the Karta, who is normally the senior-most member of the family. The Karta manages the affairs of the HUF. All the male members are known as coparceners of the HUF and the women are referred to as members. However with the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act in 2005, a daughter of a coparcener also becomes a coparcener of the HUF by birth. After marriage, the daughter becomes a member in her husband’s HUF. In some states, a married daughter continues as a coparcener in her father’s HUF, thus being a part of two HUFs.
How is a HUF formed? A HUF automatically comes into existence at the time you give birth to a child. If you are a woman, you also automatically become a part of your husband’s HUF. However, even though a HUF is automatically created, it becomes recognisable from a tax viewpoint only when it has an income.
The capital of a HUF can be any capital asset. However, you cannot simply transfer your personal assets to the HUF, as any income generated would attract tax in your personal capacity due to the provisions of clubbing of income. You can instead transfer an asset yielding tax-free income (tax-free bonds) and use this income to earn taxable income in the hands of the HUF. Gifts and inheritances meant for the family can also be used to start a HUF, keeping in mind the tax aspect.
How to get started? When you have the eligible number of members for a HUF, the first step would be to apply for a PAN card in the HUF’s name. For this, the Karta gives an affidavit with the name, father’s name and address of all the coparceners on the date of the application. Then a separate bank account is opened with the required address proof of the Karta. Thereafter, seek gifts/inheritances from relatives/strangers and also look at transferring assets yielding tax-free income.
How does a HUF help you to save tax- This is the most important aspect! A HUF is a legitimate tax saving vehicle. It is a separate entity and enjoys the same tax exemptions and tax slabs as a resident individual. Only income arising on the use of HUF funds (e.g. interest earned on loans given by HUF) or property (rental income of HUF property) will be considered as HUF income. Consider the example below. We have assumed the only income for the HUF is rental income from ancestral property and total deductions amount to Rs. 1 Lakh. The tax slabs have been considered for FY 12-13.
In Case 1, assuming there is no HUF and the rental income is also included in the individual’s income, the individual pays Rs. 1,23,600/- as tax. However, if a HUF is formed, both the individual and HUF are eligible for deductions under Sec 80C and the basic exemption limit. As a result of this, tax saved amounts to Rs. 1,23,600/-
What you cannot do with a HUF- Once assets are assigned to a HUF, it is the HUF’s property and cannot be taken for personal use. You also cannot make a will out of HUF property.
Given the complexities in tax planning using HUF, it is best to seek the help of a professional to take advantage of this legal mode of saving tax.
Team Getting You Rich