My late husband has about 1,000 shares of a company, which includes shares allotted by the company to employees on special occasions and those purchased from the open market and bonus shares. They are dated 30-35 years back. The shares are under demat. Now I want to sell them. Purchase price of these various types of shares not being available now, how can I fix the purchase price for calculating capital gains? The company has undergone many changes in its structure due to diversification and amalgamations. It may be difficult for me to get any price details. I shall be grateful for guidance.

Since the shares left by the deceased are said to be acquired 30-35 years ago, the assessee can claim value of shares as on April 1, 1981, availing the option under the law. If the shares are of listed companies, the quotation on this date would be available from the company or the stock brokers or the auditors.

The company should be able to assist by giving the price of the shares or necessary particulars.

Since they are held in depository account, they are likely to have been listed and traded on or about April 1, 1981, so that information of such price or the balance sheet for the year on any date nearest to April 1, 1981 should be available with the company to enable valuation as on that date.

Amalgamations or demergers may not make any difference to the cost paid by the assessee or the market value of shares on April 1, 1981 in the form held at the relevant date.

The cost of bonus shares after April 1, 1981 will be taken as nil but if all the shares are sold at the same time, it will get averaged by the cost of other shares.

If no information is available, the assessee can work out the cost by adopting the share price index of any stock exchange, where they are traded and work out the cost by adopting the proportion of index as on April 1, 1981 to the index as on the date of sale to the sale value and leave the matter to the assessing officer to compute the capital gains by any better method, if he can.

The reader should disclose the basis adopted for capital gains computation. Difficulty in ascertaining cost does not offer any immunity from taxation. However, law does not expect the impossible. Best possible estimate should, therefore, be acceptable. The reader should get professional assistance for working out the capital gains.