Registration as a charitable institution cannot be made subject to conditions not prescribed under the IT Act

Background

The Income Tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”) prescribes a special taxation regime for charitable trusts and institutions which are registered under the said Act. Sections 11-13 of the IT Act enable the income of a charitable trust or institution to be exempt from tax, subject to the satisfaction of certain prescribed conditions. Before such exemption can be claimed, the charitable trust or institution needs to make an application before the Commissioner of Income Tax (“CIT”) or the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax (“PCIT”), seeking registration as a charitable trust or institution under the IT Act. The CIT or PCIT can then pass an order accepting or rejecting the application for registration.

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Determining Tax Implications on Hiring Foreign Employees from Related Foreign Entities

Multinational companies (“MNCs”), with a view to utilise available skill within the MNC group, often depute employees from a foreign entity to another entity of the same group. During the period of deputation, such employees often retain their employment with the original parent entity, typically to enjoy continued social security benefits. Employees under such arrangements (“Secondment Agreements”) are referred to as, inter alia, ‘seconded employees.’

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Supreme Court Overturns Several High Court Decisions Quashing Reassessment Notices

In a recent decision of Union of India vs. Ashish Agarwal[1], the Supreme Court (“SC”) effectively overturned several High Court decisions which had quashed reassessment notices issued under Section 148 (as it existed prior to the amendments introduced through the Finance Act, 2021). The decision has a significant impact for pending reassessments, notices for which have been issued after April 1, 2021. This blog shall briefly explain the background to the appeal as well as the decision of the SC, and analyse the reasoning and impact of the decision.

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Faceless assessment Is this the right cure

The government has over the years strived to modernize the taxation system in our country to remove the discretions and unnecessary harassments experienced by the taxpayers. It has continuously integrated new technologies with the various tax compliances and other proceedings under the IT Act. With continuous planning and efforts, the Indian Revenue Authorities (“IRA”) have enabled electronic filing of several applications and returns under the Income Tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”) and have even intimated their approvals or objections directly through the e-filing portal.

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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.
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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.
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Foreign Pension Funds’ tax treatment to match Sovereign Funds for certain investments 

Background

With a view to boost infrastructure investments in India and make Indian investment more attractive, the Finance Act, 2020 (FA, 2020) introduced section 10(23FE) in the Income-tax Act, 1961 (IT Act). This section provides an exemption from tax in India in respect of income of certain specified investors who have investments in the infrastructure sector. Specified investors for this purpose include a wholly owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, ‘pension funds’ (PF) and ‘sovereign wealth funds’ (SWF). The exempt income would include interest, dividend or long-term capital gains arising to the specified investors, from their investments made in (a) company or entity engaged in developing, maintaining or operating an ‘infrastructure facility’ (Infra Companies); (b) Category-I and Category-II Alternate Investment Funds which have in turn made all their investments in Infra Companies; and (c) business trusts (i.e. Real Estate Investment Trusts and Infrastructure Investment Trusts). These exemptions are available if the Specified Investors meet certain conditions, including the requirement that they should be notified by the Indian Central Government in this regard. In pursuance to this, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has specified the procedure for the inclusion of PFs in the tax exemption notification.
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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.
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