India’s rich to shell out more for luxury cars, global travel but may have more to invest

India’s rich to shell out more for luxury cars, global travel but may have more to invest
Source: PIxabay
  • The Finance Minister reduced the maximum tax rate, and that will push HNIs and UHNIs to invest more.

  • Home-grown and global AIFs with domicile in GIFT City are also expected to benefit from the tax incentives given in the budget, Crisil said.

  • Luxury imported cars and international travel will become expensive and deduction on capital gains on luxury home sales is capped too.
The Union Budget 2023-24 is being hailed as the common man’s budget, but at the same time many diverse announcements might make things a tad difficult for high-networth and ultra- high-networth individuals (HNIs and UHNIs) in the coming year.

First on the positives: finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman did recognise that the highest tax rate in the country is also the highest in the world at 42.74%. This is for those with an annual income of above ₹5 crore. She reduced the maximum tax rate to 39% by lowering the surcharge. This move, Crisil says, will push HNIs and UHNIs – who have an investible surplus of over ₹5 crore and ₹25 crore respectively, to invest more.

“The reduction of surcharge at the highest tax bracket and its impact on the reduced incidence of taxation for individuals in the bracket is expected to improve their appetite for investing in alternative investment funds (AIFs), portfolio management services, and other alternate investment products,” said a report by ratings agency Crisil on the Budget impact.

AIFs and family offices are also expected to benefit from measures announced in the Budget for startups – to extend the period of incorporation and carry forward losses. It enables the entire ecosystem of startups and the investor community.

“Home-grown and global AIFs with domicile in GIFT City are also expected to benefit from the tax incentives given in the budget,” Crisil said.


Last year, nine out of ten UHNIs from India were able to grow their wealth in spite of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, rising interest rates and inflation. In fact, 35% of them were able to grow their wealth by more than 10%, said a report by Knight Frank, and were confident of it growing more in 2023. At 34%, equities constituted the largest chunk of the UHNI portfolio in 2022, as per the report.

Importing cars & travelling abroad gets costlier

And now to the not-so-good news for the HNIs and UHNIs. Taking money abroad has been complicated as all remittances abroad – with the exception of education via loan and for medical reasons – will be subjected to a 20% tax collected at source (TCS). This will impact investments abroad, which will be taxed at 20%, without any threshold limit.

International travel will also become costlier. “One budget proposal that will negatively impact the industry is the move to increase the TCS mandate from 5% to 20% on overseas tour packages. This will not only increase the upfront cash outflow for customers but will also give an unfair advantage to foreign-based online travel booking platforms over India-based travel agents and tour operators,” said Rajesh Magow, co-founder and group CEO of MakeMyTrip.

Luxury cars, yet another favourite asset class that India’s rich and super-rich are keen on will also get expensive. The Budget 2023-24 increased customs duty on these cars that are imported – affecting those who love Lamborghinis, Mustangs, Ferraris and more. The FM raised the customs duty from 60% to 70%.

"The policies chalked out for the automobile industry incurring increased duty rate is very unlikely to have any impact on the entry-level luxury vehicle segment,” said Sumit Garg, co-founder and MD, Luxury Ride. But those keen on buying high-end models of Mercedes, Land Rover, Porsche and Aston Martin with engine capacities over 3,000cc will have to shell out more.

REITs & luxury homes

The FM has also proposed to limit deductions from capital gains on investments into residential houses under Sections 54 and 54F to ₹10 crore.

“This essentially means that if one sells a house, and gains are more than ₹10 crore, then maximum benefit they can avail is up to ₹10 crore when invested into another property. Capital gains of over ₹10 crore will now be taxed. This is a negative on this segment as previously there was no such cap,” said Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock group, an investment consultancy.

According to the Knight Frank report, UHNIs, in particular, love purchasing residential properties, and the Indian super-rich own 5.1 residences on an average – higher than that of their global counterparts. Moreover, in 2022, about 14% of UHNIs purchased a home, and about 10% are expected to make a new home purchase in 2023. If they indeed do, in the new financial year, they would have to add in the tax element into its resale value.

However, the report says that India’s super-rich investments in real estate go beyond residential properties. A significant portion of UHNI wealth – as much as 25% – was allotted to commercial properties in 2022, either directly through ownership or indirectly through funds. This includes directly in the form of assets, and indirectly via funds and REITs or real estate investment trusts.

It might look like some of these investments need to be recalibrated as per the Budget proposals – income distributed through redemption of units by business trusts such as REITs and InvITs or infrastructure investment trusts, is to be taxed in the hands of unit holders.

“REITs/InvITs, which have emerged as an attractive tool for investment, may see some short-term volatility but are expected to remain an efficient option for investors looking to park funds in India’s promising real estate and infrastructure markets,” said Crisil.

In addition, the Budget has also taxed the maturity and surrender amount of non-ULIP insurance policies, if the premium paid by an individual is over ₹5 lakh a year. This could also be bad news for policyholders who purchase high-ticket non-ULIPs in the affluent segment.

All in all, the government is leaving more in the hands of India’s rich along with the common man – but for the former, it is redrawing the landscape for saving, investing and spending.


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