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Head and Partner in the Tax Practice at the Delhi office of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. Mr. Patnaik specialises in various aspects of direct tax, such as international tax, transfer pricing, corporate tax etc. He can be reached at sr.patnaik@cyrilshroff.com

The conundrum created by AAR regarding GST on damages

With the ongoing pandemic, the odds of invocation of clauses such as liquidated damages, price variation clause, compensation clause or forfeiture of deposits for the delay in adhering to contractual timelines, etc. have become very high. Such additional payments could also bring out an exposure on account of taxability under Goods and Services Tax (“GST”) legislations.


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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

Taxing Times Ahead for Slump Sale Transactions

Slump sale transactions are a preferred method of transferring a business as a going concern. They are often used for internal restructuring purposes and for sale of a whole or part of a business undertaking to a third party. Several global transactions also comprise of a slump sale element to execute the transfer of the Indian business to the buyer’s affiliate in India. In a slump sale, a business undertaking is transferred by one party to another as a going concern for a lumpsum consideration, without attributing specific values to assets and liabilities.
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 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.
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Karnataka HC affirms discount on issue of ESOPs is a tax-deductible business expenditure

Rewarding employees through share-based benefit schemes has been an effective tool for the companies to not just recognise their contribution to the company, but also retain them by imbibing a sense of belonging and ownership. One such scheme, popular among the companies for almost last two decades, has been grant of Employee Stock Option Plans (“ESOPs”). In simple terms, an ESOP is an option and not an obligation, provided by a company to its employees, to purchase its shares at a future date at a pre-determined price, which is ordinarily less than the market price, on satisfaction of certain prescribed conditions. While the issuance of ESOPs entail various tax implications for both the employer and the employees, the scope of this blog is limited to ascertaining the validity of an employer’s right to claim the perceived discount granted on the issue of shares as a tax deductible business expenditure. Recently, the Karnataka High Court (“HC”) affirmed the ruling of the special bench of the Bangalore Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (“ITAT SB”) in the case of Biocon Ltd.[1], wherein it was held that discount on issuance of ESOPs is an allowable business expenditure under Section 37(1) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”) for the employer.
Continue Reading Karnataka HC affirms discount on issue of ESOPs is a tax-deductible business expenditure

Assessing Indian tax considerations for successful offshore listing of Indian companies

We have seen in the blog dated September 14, titled ‘Using SPAC Vehicles as a Means of Listing Outside India’, that special purpose acquisition companies (“SPAC”) are making a comeback for the purposes of listing of companies outside India.

As a follow up to the earlier blog, we will examine some feasible structures for offshore listing and their Indian tax considerations. This examination is intended to identify the relevant tax considerations and ensure that such a listing takes place with due regard to them.

Shares of Indian companies and of foreign companies, deriving substantial value from Indian assets, are regarded as capital assets situated in India. Any gains derived by any person, including a non-resident, from transfer of an Indian capital asset is regarded as income taxable in India. The term ‘transfer’ in this context is given a very wide meaning and it includes within its purview sale, exchange, relinquishment of the asset, extinguishment of any right in the capital asset, conversion of the capital asset into stock in trade, maturity or redemption of zero coupon bond, etc. We will limit ourselves here to the meaning of transfer in relation to shares and securities. The law also provides how the gains are to be computed when there is a transfer of shares. It is a settled law that where the mechanism to compute gains is not available, it is presumed that the legislature did not intend such a transfer to be subjected to tax.
Continue Reading Assessing Indian tax considerations for successful offshore listing of Indian companies 

Primacy of family settlements upheld

Family settlements and ensuing documentation have been a subject matter of litigation for various reasons. One such litigious issue is whether the documents pertaining to family settlements are required to be registered under the Registration Act, 1908 (“Act”). If a document, which was otherwise required to be compulsorily registered, has not been registered, then as per Section 49 of the Act, such document would not affect any immovable property comprised therein, or confer any power to adopt, or be received as an admissible evidence of any transaction recorded in the document. The consequential issue that has evolved is whether the documents recording family arrangements are required to be registered. Recently, the Supreme Court (“SC”), in the case of Ravinder Kaur Grewal & Others. v. Manjit Kaur & Ors.,[1] has held that a memorandum of family settlement, which merely records the terms of a family settlement already acted upon by the concerned parties, is not required to be registered.
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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?

Provisions for taxing dividend income, receive yet another upgrade

The Finance Bill, 2020 (the “Bill”) was recently passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower house of the Parliament) on March 23, 2020, with more than 50 amendments to the Bill. The Bill has now received the presidential assent and has become an Act (“Finance Act”).  The new provisions proposed by the Bill, for taxing dividends have also been amended to expand the scope of certain benefits and to provide more clarity surrounding the applicability of these provisions. Through this blog, we would like to discuss changes pertaining to taxation of dividends.

Deduction for dividends received from foreign companies and business trust

As per the erstwhile section 115-O of the Income-tax Act,1961 (“IT Act”), distribution of dividends by a domestic company was subject to an additional income tax, called Dividend Distribution Tax (“DDT”), in the hands of the company at an effective rate of 20.56% (inclusive of the applicable surcharge and cess). Such tax was treated as the final tax on dividends and the dividends were generally exempt from any further incidence of tax in the hands of the investors. Further, in order to reduce the cascading effect of DDT, domestic companies while computing the amount of dividends on which DDT is paid were allowed a deduction for dividends received from its subsidiary (i.e. where the company holds more than 50% of the shareholding of the subsidiary), provided DDT was paid by the subsidiary during the same financial year. Similar deduction was also available on account of dividends received from a foreign company on which tax was payable by the domestic company under section 115BBD of the IT Act, provided the domestic company held at least 26% equity shareholding in the foreign company.
Continue Reading Provisions for taxing dividend income, receive yet another upgrade

Revenue Recognition Policy of Telecom Companies Attains Finality

The Indian telecommunications sector has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years due to the significant increase in the subscriber base, with an increasing percentage of them looking for pre-paid connections. The sector now reaches out to every nook and corner of the country. What is even more praiseworthy is the fact that this has been achieved at very low cost and consumers have also prospered from availing such services at one of the lowest charge-out rates.

The above was possible because Indian telecommunication players were able to come up with extremely innovative invoicing options and accordingly also adopted very different revenue recognition mechanisms. As most of the growth was seen in the pre-paid section, the revenue recognition methodology adopted by the industry was also subject to a vigorous amount of scrutiny by the tax authorities and there has been a significant amount of litigation on account of the same. The controversy primarily arose because the contracts entered into by the telecom companies with prepaid customers were large in numbers and got modified frequently.
Continue Reading Revenue Recognition Policy of Telecom Companies Attains Finality