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.
Continue Reading Taxing Times Ahead for Slump Sale Transactions

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

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

Clarity on eligibility criteria for funds set up by Category I FPIs for exemption from taxable presence in India

Background

A special  taxation regime, provided under Section 9A of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”), exempts eligible offshore funds, with their fund managers located in India, from treating them as having taxable business presence in India. On satisfaction of the requirements set out in Section 9A of the IT Act, management of the funds through such Indian fund managers would not constitute the offshore fund’s ‘business connection’ in India. It is important to note that when an offshore fund, satisfying these conditions is not taxable in India on its business income under the domestic law, then the question of it not having permanent establishment under the applicable double taxation avoidance agreement (“DTAA”) becomes moot. Additionally, Section 9A also excludes an eligible investment fund from being treated as resident in India for tax purposes under the provision of ‘Place of Effective Management’ when the eligible fund manager undertakes fund management activities while situated in India.
Continue Reading Clarity on eligibility criteria for funds set up by Category I FPIs for exemption from taxable presence in India

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?

In its recent ruling[1], the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Bench at Delhi (ITAT) has reiterated the well-established principles, including (i) validity of Trusts; (iii) use of Trusts to hold treasury shares[2]; and (iii) the taxation of its income as a representative of the beneficiary/beneficiaries under the provisions of sections 160-166 of the Income-Tax Act, 1961 (IT Act). The ITAT further upheld the principle that trustees are to be assessed as ‘representative assessee’ in the same and like manner as beneficiaries and therefore, creation of a Trust is not a tax evasion device as the Trust will have the same tax liability and exemptions accruing to the beneficiary.


Continue Reading Trust is Trustworthy, not a Device to Evade Tax: ITAT Delhi

The ripples from the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) were felt all around the world, causing unprecedented strain on national exchequers and on companies’ balance sheets for several years. The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to cause greater economic hardship than even the GFC or the great depression of 1929[1]. Such events often lead to policy makers pushing for aggressive tax regimes aimed at bulking up national exchequers and tightening of regulatory frameworks to prevent leakages from their economies through tax evasion, money laundering and other such white-collar crimes.

In keeping with the global trend, India has, in the recent past, adopted a very strict approach towards offenses such as tax evasion, money laundering and benami transactions. The current pandemic and its economic repercussions are sure to test the regulatory framework as individuals and corporates alike are tempted to push the envelope. Even prior to the pandemic, the Indian Income Tax department had detected approximately INR 37,946 crore worth of tax fraud in financial year 2018-19 and INT 6,520 crore in April-June 2019.[2]


Continue Reading Tax and White-Collar Crimes: The whole nine yards (Part I)

Rules for minimum remuneration notified for Indian managers of offshore funds to qualify for exemption from taxable presence in India

Background

Section 9A of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”) carves out a special taxation regime to exempt eligible offshore funds from being regarded as having a business presence in India and hence subject to taxation in India, despite their fund managers being located in India. If the offshore funds as well as

OECD’s-views-on-factors-impacting-tax-policies-and-determination-of-‘PE’-and-‘POEM’-in-times-of-COVID-19

In our previous blog, we discussed some measures which were suggested by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) to ease the cash flow crunch being faced by taxpayers due to the COVID-19 situation. In continuation with the same, this blog will focus on the key issues highlighted by the OECD, which should be considered by nations while granting these benefits.

In addition to the above, restriction on movement of people due to lockdowns imposed in various countries is also likely to give rise to other issues. The OECD has analysed tax treaty provisions to determine the potential impact of such restrictions on exposure to permanent establishments (“PE”) and the ‘place of effective management’ (“POEM”) of companies. This analysis is also discussed in this blog.
Continue Reading OECD’s views on factors impacting tax policies and determination of ‘PE’ and ‘POEM’ in times of COVID-19