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Agricultural Income and Its Taxation: Types, Exemptions, and More

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  • Post published:November 5, 2023
  • Post category:Taxation


Agricultural Income Taxation

Agricultural income holds a unique position in the world of taxation, especially in India. It is a fundamental pillar of the economy and plays a vital role in the livelihood of a significant portion of the population. Agricultural income is distinct from other earnings, and its treatment under the Income-tax Act 1961 is unique. In this article, we will delve into the concept of agricultural income, its various types, and the taxation rules governing it.

What is Agricultural Income?

Agricultural income, as defined by the Income Tax Act, is the total revenue generated by an individual or entity from various agricultural activities conducted on agricultural land. This definition encompasses several key elements:

  1. Rent from Agricultural Land: Income derived from renting out agricultural land is considered agricultural income. This applies to land used for agricultural purposes, such as cultivation or livestock farming.
  2. Income from Processed Agricultural Goods: If the agricultural produce requires processing before it can be sold in the market, the income generated from such processing activities is still considered agricultural income. For example, crops like oats need processing (removal of husk) before they can be sold.
  3. Income from Sale of Agricultural Produce: Revenue from selling agricultural produce grown on agricultural land, such as fruits, vegetables, or grains, falls under the umbrella of agricultural income.
  4. Income from Buildings on Agricultural Land: Any income from a building, like a farmhouse or a hut, situated on agricultural land or in a designated agricultural area is also considered agricultural income. However, certain conditions apply: the building must be in close proximity to the agricultural land, primarily used for agricultural activities, and genuinely required for such purposes.

State vs. Central Government Taxation of Agricultural Income

One of the significant aspects of agricultural income taxation is the division of powers between the central and state governments in India. According to the Constitution, taxes on agricultural income fall under the purview of state governments. This means that only state governments have the authority to levy taxes on agricultural income, while the central government cannot impose taxes on it. This principle is rooted in Article 265 of the Constitution, which ensures that income is subject to taxation by one authority only.

Agriculture Income Taxation under the Income Tax Act

Under Section 10(1) of the Income Tax Act, agricultural income is granted an exemption. This exemption encompasses not only the income directly generated from agricultural activities but also income from the sale of agricultural land and compensation received from the government for land acquisition. In essence, the Income Tax Act provides favourable treatment for agricultural income, recognizing its importance to the agricultural community.

State Government Income Tax

It is important to note that not all state governments levy taxes on agricultural income. Specific states in India have enacted special legislation to tax agricultural income, including Assam, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. Notably, the Government of Kerala repealed its state agricultural income tax act in early 2023. The tax rates and rules for taxing agricultural income can vary widely among states. Generally, staple food grains such as wheat and rice remain exempt from taxation, while horticultural and plantation crops are often subject to higher tax rates due to their commercial nature.

Tax on Commercial Crops

The Income Tax Act also provides guidelines for the taxation of income earned from specific commercial crops such as tea, coffee, and rubber. A portion of the income from these crops is exempt, while the remaining part is taxable. For example, in the case of tea, 40% of the total income is considered taxable, and the remaining 60% is classified as non-taxable agricultural income. This ensures a fair taxation approach for income derived from commercial crop cultivation.

How to File ITR in Case of Agricultural Income

While agricultural income is exempt from income tax, it is still mandatory to report it in your Income Tax Return (ITR). This reporting serves transparency and documentation purposes, ensuring that the income is properly accounted for. The specific ITR form to be used depends on the amount of agricultural income. Individuals with agricultural income up to Rs 5,000 should use ITR-1 (Sahaj), while those with higher agricultural income should opt for ITR-2 and fill in ‘Schedule EI.’

Incomes Not Classified as Agricultural Incomes

The Income Tax Act excludes incomes derived from allied agricultural activities from the definition of agricultural income. Instead, the central government levies taxes on income generated from such activities. State governments also have the authority to tax these allied activities. However, it is essential to note that double taxation is avoided; if a state government imposes taxes on allied activities, the central government cannot levy taxes on the same income.

Examples of incomes that do not fall under the category of agricultural income include:

  • Income from trading of agricultural goods
  • Income from forestry
  • Rental income from land or buildings not used for agriculture
  • Income from poultry, dairy, or livestock farming


In conclusion, the concept of agricultural income and its taxation under the Income Tax Act in India is a complex yet vital aspect of the country’s financial landscape. Understanding the various types of agricultural income, the exemptions provided, and the division of taxation powers between the central and state governments is crucial for individuals and entities engaged in agricultural activities. It is imperative to adhere to the specific tax laws and regulations in one’s respective state to ensure compliance and avoid unnecessary tax liabilities.

For expert guidance and assistance in managing your agricultural income and taxation, you can turn to Kanakkupillai. Kanakkupillai is a trusted source of financial and tax-related services in India, offering valuable insights and support to help you navigate the intricate world of agricultural income taxation. Our expertise and experience can be a valuable resource for ensuring you manage your agricultural income efficiently and comply with the law. Whether you have questions about exemptions, reporting, or any other agricultural income taxation, Kanakkupillai can provide the guidance and assistance you need to make informed financial decisions.


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