Changes in International Tax
1. Incentives to International Financial Services Centre (IFSC):
In order to promote the development of world class financial infrastructure in India, some tax concessions have already been provided in respect of business carried on from an IFSC. To further promote such development and bring these IFSC at par with similar IFSC in other countries, following additional benefits are proposed:
a. Under the existing provisions of the section 47 of the Act, any transfer of a capital asset, being bonds or Global Depository Receipts or rupee denominated bond of an Indian company or derivative, made by a non-resident through a recognised stock exchange located in any IFSC and where the consideration for such transaction is paid or payable in foreign currency shall not be regarded as transfer.
With a view to provide tax-neutral transfer of certain securities by Category III Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) in IFSC, it is proposed to amend the said section so as to provide that any transfer of a capital asset, specified in the said clause by such AIF, of which all the unit holders are non-resident, are not regarded as transfer subject to fulfillment of specified conditions.
It is also proposed to widen the types of securities listed in said clause by empowering the Central Government to notify other securities for the purposes of this clause.
b. With a view to facilitate external borrowing by the units located in IFSC, it is proposed to amend the section 10 of the Act so as to provide that any income by way of interest payable to a non-resident by a unit located in IFSC in respect of monies borrowed by it on or after 1st day of September, 2019, shall be exempt.
c. The existing provisions of the section 115-O of the Act, provide that no tax on distributed profits shall be chargeable in respect of the total income of a company, being a unit of an IFSC, deriving income solely in convertible foreign exchange, for any assessment year on any amount declared, distributed or paid by such company, by way of dividends (whether interim or otherwise) on or after the 1st day of April, 2017, out of its current income, either in the hands of the company or the person receiving such dividend.
To facilitate distribution of dividend by companies operating in IFSC, it is proposed to amend the provision of the said section to provide that any dividend paid out of accumulated income derived from operations in IFSC, after 1st April 2017 shall also not be liable for tax on distributed profits.
d. The existing provisions of the section 115R of the Act, provide that any amount of income distributed by the specified company or a Mutual Fund to its unit holders shall be chargeable to tax and such specified company or Mutual Fund shall be liable to pay additional income-tax on such distributed income.
In order to incentivize relocation of Mutual Fund in IFSC, it is proposed to amend the said section so as to provide that no additional income-tax shall be chargeable in respect of any amount of income distributed, on or after the 1st day of September, 2019, by a Mutual Fund of which all the unit holders are non-residents and which fulfills certain other specified conditions.
e. The existing provisions of the section 80LA of the Act, inter alia, provide profit linked deduction of an amount equal to one hundred per cent of income for the first five consecutive assessment years and fifty per cent of income for the next five consecutive assessment years, to units of an IFSC.
With a view to further incentivize operation of units in IFSC, it is proposed to amend the said section so as to provide that the deduction shall be increased to one hundred per cent for any ten consecutive years. The assessee, at his option, may claim the said deduction for any ten consecutive assessment years out of fifteen years beginning with the year in which the necessary permission was obtained.
f. Section 115A of the Act provides the method of calculation of income-tax payable by a non-resident (not being a company) or by a foreign company where the total income includes any income by way of dividend (other than referred in section 115-O), interest, royalty and fees for technical services; etc. Section 80LA, provides for deduction in respect of certain incomes to a unit located in an IFSC. However, sub-section (4) of section 115A prohibits any deduction under chapter VIA which includes section 80LA.
In order to ensure that units located in IFSC claim full deduction, it is proposed to amend section 115A of the Act so as to provide that the conditions contained in subsection (4) of section 115A shall not apply to a unit of an IFSC for under section 80LA is allowed.
2. Provide for pass through of losses in cases of Category I and Category II Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)
Section 115UB of the Act, inter alia, provides for pass through of income earned by the Category I and II AIF, except for business income which is taxed at AIF level. Pass through of profits (other than profit & gains from business) has been allowed to individual investors so as to give them benefit of lower rate of tax, if applicable. Pass through of losses are not provided under the existing regime and are retained at AIF level to be carried forward and set off in accordance with Chapter VI.
In order to remove the genuine difficulty faced by Category I and II AIFs, it is proposed to amend section 115UB to provide that:
(i) the business loss of the investment fund, if any, shall be allowed to be carried forward and it shall be set-off by it in accordance with the provisions of Chapter VI and it shall not be passed onto the unit holder;
(ii) the loss other than business loss, if any, shall also be ignored for the purposes of pass through to its unit holders, if such loss has arisen in respect of a unit which has not been held by the unit holder for a period of atleast twelve months;
(iii) the loss other than business loss, if any, accumulated at the level of investment fund as on 31st March, 2019, shall be deemed to be the loss of a unit holder who held the unit on 31st March, 2019 in respect of the investments made by him in the investment fund and allowed to be carried forward by him for the remaining period calculated from the year in which the loss had occurred for the first time taking that year as the first year and it shall be set-off by him in accordance with the provisions of Chapter VI; the loss so deemed in the hands of unit holders shall not be available to the investment fund for the purposes of chapter VI.
3. Rationalisation of provision relating recovery of tax in pursuance of agreements with foreign countries
The existing provisions of section 228A of the Act provide that where an agreement is entered into by the Central Government with the Government of any foreign country for recovery of income-tax under the Income-tax Act and the corresponding law in force in that country and where such foreign country sends a certificate for the recovery of any tax due under such corresponding law from a person having any property in India, the Board, on receipt of such certificate may, forward it to the Tax Recovery Officer within whose jurisdiction such property is situated for the recovery of tax in pursuance of agreement with such foreign country.
In order to provide assistance in recovery of tax as per treaty obligation with the other country, it is proposed to amend the said section so as to provide for tax recovery where details of property of the persons are not available but the said person is a resident in India. It is also proposed to amend the said section so as to provide for tax recovery, where details of property of an assessee in default under the Act are not available but the said assessee is a resident in a foreign country.
4. Relaxation in conditions of special taxation regime for offshore funds
Section 9A of the Act provides for a safe harbour in respect of offshore funds. It provides that in the case of an eligible investment fund, the fund management activity carried out through an eligible fund manager located in India and acting on behalf of such fund shall by itself not constitute business connection in India of the said fund. Further, an eligible investment fund shall not be said to be resident in India merely because the eligible fund manager undertaking fund management activities on its behalf is located in India. The benefit under section 9A is available subject to the conditions provided in sub-sections (3), (4) and (5) of the said section. Sub-section (3) of section 9A provides for the conditions for the eligibility of the fund. These conditions, inter-alia, are related to residence of fund, corpus, size, investor broad basing, investment diversification and payment of remuneration to fund manager at arm’s length.
Following 2 conditions are relaxed for such offshore funds:
i. the corpus of the fund shall not be less than one hundred crore rupees at the end of a period of six months from the end of the month of its establishment/ incorporation or at the end of such previous year, whichever is later. (Earlier the condition of corpus limit was to be fulfilled only at the end of such previous year)
ii. the remuneration paid by the fund to an eligible fund manager in respect of fund management activity undertaken by him on its behalf is not less than the amount calculated in such manner as may be prescribed. (Earlier it was on arm’s length price which is now replaced by prescribed method)