Photo of Kunal Savani

Partner in the Tax & Private Client Practice at the Mumbai office of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. Kunal specialises in various aspects of direct tax, such as corporate tax, M & A transactions, international tax and also specialises in succession and estate planning. He can be reached at kunal.savani@cyrilshroff.com

Beneficial ownership requirement not in-built in Capital Gains Article

Background

Historically, the Indo-Mauritius tax treaty has exempted capital gains arising to Mauritian investors from sale of shares of Indian companies, from being taxed in India. As a result, many investors used to structure their investments in India through entities incorporated in Mauritius, to claim this treaty benefit. This prompted the Indian tax authorities to renegotiate its tax treaty with Mauritius (and other countries), to, inter alia, acquire the right to tax capital gains arising from sale of shares of Indian companies and to introduce a limitation of benefits (“LOB”) clause, which excluded any shell/conduit company to claim certain benefits under the Indo-Mauritius tax treaty.

Even prior to such amendments, courts have denied the capital gain exemption under the Indo-Mauritius tax treaty to entities that were mere shell companies incorporated in Mauritius for the sole purpose of treaty shopping[1]. Recently, a similar question arose before the Mumbai Income-tax Appellate Authority (“ITAT”) in Blackstone FP,[2] where investments in Indian shares had been made prior to the amendment of the Indo-Mauritius tax treaty.

Continue Reading Beneficial ownership requirement not in-built in Capital Gains Article

IT Act

Background

The Income Tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”) confers various powers on the Income Tax Department (“ITD”) to curb the menace of laundering of unaccounted money. One such power-bestowing provision is Section 68 of the IT Act, which is often resorted to by the ITD when large amounts of unaccounted funds are invested in companies at a significant premium. This provision puts the onus on the taxpayer, i.e., the investee company, to satisfactorily explain the source of those funds and produce details to evidence the identity, genuineness and creditworthiness of the shareholders as well as the source of the shareholders’ fund.

Continue Reading Is regulatory compliance sufficient to discharge onus u/s 68 of the IT Act?

Gift of ‘Brand’ to family trust not taxable

Family trusts have become a widely popular tool for not only succession and estate planning, but also for managing assets and investments. If deployed wisely, these trusts can prove to be an effective and tax efficient structuring instrument. However, despite the advantages offered by these family trusts, contributing or settling existing assets into such trusts may pose some challenges, especially on account of certain tax provisions. One such challenge is posed by the provisions of Section 56(2)(x) of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”), which seeks to tax a notional income, where certain assets (such as land, securities, work of art, etc.) are transferred or settled/ contributed into a trust for no consideration or for a consideration less than the fair market value of such assets. (exempts transfer or contribution to a trust settled by an individual for the sole benefit of his/ her relatives). Recently, a similar issue came before the Mumbai ITAT, in the case of Balaji Trust[1], where the tax authorities sought to tax the gift of ‘Essar’ brand to a family trust.

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Tax motivated transaction IPSO Facto may not be regarded as Sham

In today’s economy, a business entity cannot undermine the impact of taxation on its growth and development trajectory, which is why tax planning is considered to be the most pivotal part of financial planning. While the line between tax planning and tax evasion is very thin, the Supreme Court, on various occasions, has differentiated between the two concepts and has repeatedly held that minimisation of tax liability through legitimate tax planning is not illegal.[1]

Continue Reading Tax motivated transaction ipso facto may not be regarded as sham

International Financial Services Centre

Inauguration of India’s first International Financial Services Centre (“IFSC”) at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (“Gift City”) in Gujarat is a positive development to invigorate our financial sector. If everything that is being attempted to achieve is accomplished, it will mark our entry on the global stage. When IFSC was being set up, our then Finance Minister, Late Mr. Arun Jaitley, had envisioned an IFSC at par with other global financial hubs like London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, etc. An IFSC encourages all major global players to operate in such facility, which in turn would facilitate a two way flow of finance, financial products, financial services, etc.. It would also attract the best talent pool because of access to multiple career opportunities as well as ability to work with the market leaders and world class products. For India, despite being one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, having one of the best talent pools that has created a name for itself in the global scene, having a significantly young population and emerging as one of the most sought after jurisdictions for start-ups, to not have an IFSC of its own and to not offer financial services to businesses across the world, would have been a great travesty.

Continue Reading International Financial Services Centre, an idea whose time has come – Part I: Banking Sector

Applicability of new TDS provisions on sale of securities

Generally, transactions involving sale of shares by non-resident shareholders are subject to withholding tax at applicable rates under the Income-tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”), provided the gains arising from such sales are taxable in India. However, there was no requirement to withhold/ deduct any tax on gains arising to resident sellers from sale of shares/ securities.
Continue Reading Decoding the applicability of new TDS provisions on sale of securities

CBDT notifies thresholds to determine ‘significance’ of significant economic presence

Non-resident taxpayers may now have to watch out for a new nexus norm that will require enterprises with no physical presence in India to pay taxes in India on their business profits attributable to transactions or activities that constitute a ‘significant economic presence’ (“SEP”) of the non-resident in India.
Continue Reading CBDT notifies thresholds to determine ‘significance’ of significant economic presence

 BUMPY ROAD AHEAD FOR M&A TRANSACTION - BUDGET 2021

The Finance Minister (“FM”) introduced her promised ‘never like before Budget’, with the objective of stimulating economic growth through higher spending on healthcare and infrastructure, against the backdrop of the economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The FM has also proposed a slew of reforms under the Finance Bill, 2021 (“Bill”), to rationalize the extant provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”). Certain proposals introduced in the Bill could significantly impact M&A deals and change the traditional modus operandi of M&A transactions in India. The ensuing paragraphs will focus on a few such significant amendments proposed in the Bill, which may require close consideration by stakeholders before entering an M&A transaction, be it amalgamation, share acquisition or an acquisition of business as a going concern.
Continue Reading Bumpy Road Ahead for M&A Transaction: Budget 2021

By Hook or By Crook - When IT dept. sought to tax rights issue as unexplained cash credit but Tribunal refused

Background

In general, tax can only be levied on an amount, which falls within the meaning of the term ‘income’ or ‘deemed income’. Capital receipts are not taxable except where they are characterised as ‘income’ through specific provisions in the Income-tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”). Thus, amounts received by way of share capital, whether the amount representing face value or premium, being capital receipt are not characterised as ‘income’ of a company, and therefore not taxed. However, it has been seen that this exemption under the law can be misused. A time-tested strategy aimed at laundering an individual’s unaccounted funds involves incorporation of sham entities with huge capital at premium, which in turn invests these funds in the individual’s legitimate businesses by way of subscription to shares at a premium. Section 68 (‘Cash Credits’) of the IT Act attempts to deter such practices by bringing to tax any sum found credited in the books of an assessee if the assessee offers no or unsatisfactory explanations on the nature and source of the credit.
Continue Reading By Hook or By Crook: When IT dept. sought to tax rights issue as unexplained cash credit but Tribunal refused

CBDT NOTIFIES RELAXATION IN FAIR VALUATION NORMS- ARE THEY ENOUGH

Income-tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”) provides for certain anti-avoidance provisions, like Section 56(2)(x) and Section 50CA, which seek to impose tax on certain assets, that were received or transferred for an inadequate consideration. Section 56(2)(x) of the IT Act stipulates that where certain assets, including shares and securities are received for a value which is less than their fair market value (“FMV”), then the difference between the FMV and actual consideration paid would be subject to tax in the hands of the recipient under the ‘other incomes’ head. Similarly, in the hands of the seller / transferor, Section 50CA provides for deeming the FMV of unquoted shares as the sale consideration for computing the capital gains arising from the transfer of such shares at a value which is less than the FMV.
Continue Reading CBDT NOTIFIES RELAXATION IN FAIR VALUATION NORMS- ARE THEY ENOUGH?