What is Cost Inflation Index: All you need to know!

Last updated:
cost index inflation

The global economy is dynamic and changes continuously due to a number of factors such as economic policies, economic growth, political events, changes in the market, news, etc. One such phenomenon that is widely prevalent is the decrease in the purchasing power of money. The reduction in the actual value of money happens due to a rise in the prices of goods and services. The increase in prices leads to an increase in the cost of living for an individual, which is known as inflation. Cost Inflation Index or CII is a tool used to calculate the estimated year-on-year rise in the prices of goods and assets due to inflation.

What is Cost Inflation Index (CII)?

CII helps in the calculation of the yearly rise in prices of goods and assets because of inflation. CII index is calculated every year to help individuals to show the adjusted value of capital gains earned from selling of capital assets and thereby reduce tax liabilities. Capital gains refer to the profit earned from selling any capital asset like land, house property, shares, patents, etc. 

Purpose of CII

In bookkeeping, long term capital assets are usually recorded at their cost prices, which poses a taxation problem because despite inflation, these prices cannot be evaluated as per the prevailing costs. Thus, the profits earned from selling a capital asset remain high because of a substantial difference between the selling and cost price of the asset. An individual ends up paying higher income tax because of higher capital gains. 

Cost Inflation Index for capital gains helps to adjust the cost price of the asset according to its sale price. The adjusted cost price leads to lower profits and subsequently a lower capital gain tax.

Revision in CII

The new Cost Inflation Index chart was released in February 2008 by the Central Board of Direct Taxes. The base year was changed to 2001 from 1981 and the indices or indexation prices for all following years were also changed accordingly. The revision solved the difficulties taxpayers were facing to calculate the capital gain taxes on assets in 1981 or before. Let us now compare the old and new capital gain indexation charts for the last ten financial years.

New CII Chart (FY 2009-10 to 2020-21)

Financial YearCII

The new capital gain index is important for taxpayers to calculate their tax liabilities on long term capital gains correctly and file ITR accordingly.

Things to Know in CII

Base Year

The base year works as a benchmark on which basis the CII values of all the subsequent years are calculated. It is the first year in the index with a value of 100. The CII values of the years following the base year are calculated in accordance with the increase in inflation over that of the base year.

On the other hand, for the assets purchased before the base year, taxpayers can consider the price of the asset either as its Fair Market Value or its actual cost on the Day 1 of the base year. The FMV of the asset is calculated as per its valuation report prepared by a registered valuer. 

The indexation is then applied on the purchase price of the asset and the value is adjusted accordingly.

Indexation on Long Term Capital Gains

Cost of inflation index or the indexed cost of asset acquisition/improvement is calculated by applying indexation on the price at which the asset is purchased to adjust the price with inflation. 

Formula for Indexed Cost of Asset Acquisition

(CII for the year of sale or transfer of the asset x Cost of acquisition of the asset) / CII for the first year of the holding period of the asset or year 2001-02, whichever comes later.

Formula for Indexed Cost of Asset Improvement

(CII for the year of sale or transfer of the asset x Cost of improvement of the asset) / CII for the first year of the holding period of the asset or year 2001-02, whichever comes later.

Let us understand this with an example:

Mr. X purchased a capital asset in FY 1998-99 for Rs. 10,00,000. The Fair Market Value or FMV of the capital asset on April 1, 2000, was Rs. 20,20,000. Mr. X then sold this asset in the FY 2017-18.

As can be seen from the example, Mr. X purchased the asset before the base year. Therefore, the cost of asset acquisition will be the higher one between FMV and the actual cost of the asset, as on April 1, 2000. Therefore, the cost of asset acquisition = Rs. 20,20,000.

CII for FY 2001-02 (base year) and 2017-18 (year in which the asset is sold) is 100 and 272 respectively. Therefore, the indexed cost of asset acquisition = (20,20,000 x 272)/100 = Rs. 54,94,400.

How Taxpayers Can Reduce Tax Liabilities With the Help of CII?

Indexation helps taxpayers to reduce their tax liabilities on profits earned from selling capital assets. It brings down the quantum of tax applicable on long term capital gains made from selling a capital asset such as real estate properties, debt mutual funds, etc. However, the taxpayer can only benefit from indexation if the capital asset is held for at least 2 years. Any gains made from selling capital assets within 2 years from their purchase are considered as short-term capital gains (STCG) and are not eligible for indexation. Profits earned from selling capital assets after holding for 2 years will be classified as long term capital gains (LTCG) and are eligible for indexation. 

Long term capital gains are taxed at 20%, hence indexation helps to reduce this tax liability of the taxpayer. The saved amount can be used to make further investments and gain over the years, which can be counted as an additional benefit of CII when applied to LTCG.