A Comprehensive Guide to ITR Filing for Stock Traders

The deadline for filing ITR for the financial year 2022-23 (assessment year 2023-24) is fast approaching, with the cutoff date set on July 31, 2023. It is crucial for stock market traders to understand the process of filing ITR to ensure compliance with tax regulations. This comprehensive guide will provide you with valuable insights on ITR filing for stock traders, covering topics such as the tax on stock market gains, trader income tax, and the necessary steps to successfully file your ITR.

Types of Stock Trading Income

The Income Tax Act classifies income from stock trading into two categories: capital gains and business income. The distinction depends on your trading intentions and frequency.

Capital Gains

 If your stock trading is geared towards long-term investment, the income falls under capital gains. Short-term capital gains (STCG) occur if stocks are sold within 12 months of purchase, while long-term capital gains (LTCG) apply to stocks held for more than 12 months.

Business Income

For those actively trading stocks to profit from price fluctuations, the income is categorized as business income. This is further divided into speculative and non-speculative income, depending on the mode of stock delivery.

Understanding the Distinction between Traders and Investors

When it comes to income tax return filing, it is essential to differentiate between a trader and an investor. A trader engages in numerous high-volume transactions with the intention of profiting from frequent price fluctuations.

On the other hand, an investor typically adopts a long-term perspective. It is crucial to determine your classification accurately, as it impacts how you report your income and expenses for tax purposes.

Reporting Income from Trading

As a stock trader, you must disclose your income from stock trading in your ITR.

There are two types of income from stock/equity trading: 

  1. Income from intraday trading.
  2. Income from trading stocks held for more than a day. 

Income from intraday trading is considered income/loss from speculative business after deducting the security transaction tax (STT) paid on such transactions. This income should be reported in ITR-3 form as income from a speculative business. It is crucial to accurately report your trading income to ensure compliance with tax regulations.

Trader Income Tax – Reporting Capital Gains in ITR 

Income from stocks/equity held for more than one day is categorised as gains or losses from capital asset transactions and should be reported in ITR-2 form under the head of capital gains. It is essential to consider the holding period of the stock to determine whether it falls under short-term or long-term capital gains. A holding period of more than 12 months qualifies as long-term capital gains, while shorter periods are classified as short-term capital gains. 

Tax on Stock Market Gains 

Short-term capital gains from stock trading are taxable at a rate of 15 percent. In comparison, long-term capital gains are taxable at a rate of 10 percent after deducting the threshold limit of Rs 1 lakh without the benefit of indexation.

Choosing the Right ITR Form for Stock Traders

Selecting the correct ITR form is crucial for accurate filing. There are a total of seven ITR forms available, and the selection depends on the nature of your income during the relevant previous year. 

If you have earned capital gains or losses during the year, you can report them only in Form ITR-2 or ITR-3. Salaried individuals who are eligible to file ITR-1 must choose ITR-2 to report capital gains. 

If you have a business or professional income and need to report capital gains, you should file ITR-3. It is essential to choose the appropriate ITR form to avoid errors in your tax return.

Determining Your Investor or Trader Status

Determining whether you are classified as an investor or a trader is the first step in filing income tax returns as a stock market participant. Your status will influence how you report your income and expenses, as well as guide your choice of tax forms and reporting methods. 

How to File ITR for Stocks

Filing an ITR for stock trading requires selecting the appropriate ITR form based on your income sources and the type of stock trading income you earn. Refer to the table below to determine the suitable ITR form:

  • ITR-2: For those with income sources from salary, house property, and other sources and who earn only capital gains.
  • ITR-3: Applicable if you have income from salary, house property, and other sources and earn either business income, capital gains, or both.
  • The steps to file ITR for stocks are as follows:
    • Visit the official Income Tax Department website and log in.
    • Select “e-file,” choose “Income Tax Return,” and proceed to “File Income Tax Return.”
    • Choose the assessment year, status, and ITR form according to your eligibility and continue.
    • Enter general information like name, address, PAN, Aadhaar, and more.
    • Fill in income details, including salary, house property, other sources, capital gains, and business income.
    • Claim deductions under Section 80C to 80U and other applicable exemptions.
    • Set off losses against gains as per tax rules and carry them forward.
    • Pay the due tax or claim a refund as per your total income and tax liability.
    • Verify your ITR using Aadhaar OTP, net banking, or EVC. Alternatively, send a signed copy of the ITR-V to the CPC, Bengaluru, within 120 days of filing.

How to File Income Tax Returns for Investors and Traders in the Indian Stock Market?

It is crucial to understand the complete ITR filing process to ensure that you don’t commit any of these mistakes at any point.

  1. Gather Essential Documents: Collect brokerage statements, trade confirmations, and other records to accurately report your stock market activities.
  2. Report Investment Income: Include dividends and interest earned from your stock holdings, ensuring accurate entry of information from Form 1099-DIV and Form 1099-INT.
  3. Report Capital Gains and Losses: Use the appropriate forms (Schedule D, Form 4797, or Form 8949) to report capital gains and losses based on your investor or trader status.

Form 8949: Use it to report sales and exchanges of capital assets. 

Form 4797: Use it to report the sale or exchange of property and the involuntary conversion of property and capital assets.

        4. Deductible Expenses: Determine eligible deductions for investment-related expenses as an investor and additional expenses for traders, maintaining thorough records for accurate claims.

        5. Report Foreign Investments: Fulfill additional reporting requirements for foreign investments, including income earned and disclosure of foreign financial accounts if necessary.

       6. Seek Professional Advice: Consider consulting an online tax consultant or an experienced accountant in stock market taxation for personalised guidance and optimisation of your tax situation.


Filing income tax returns as an investor or trader in the Indian stock market requires proper documentation, accurate reporting of investment income, capital gains, and losses, consideration of deductible expenses, compliance with wash sale rules, reporting foreign investments, and seeking professional advice when needed. Ensure a smooth filing process while maximising your tax benefits as a stock market participant.





Disclaimer: Investments in the securities market are subject to market risks; read all the related documents carefully before investing.