The ITAT recently dismissed an appeal and slammed Cognizant India Private Limited (“Cognizant India”) for what it perceived as using a colorable device to evade taxes during its INR 190 billion share buyback exercise.Continue Reading Cognizant’s High Court approved scheme of arrangement was held to be a colorable device by Chennai ITAT
Section 48 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”) provides the computation mechanism for capital gains arising to a taxpayer pursuant to the transfer of a capital asset. The said provision, inter alia, permits non-resident taxpayers to account for foreign currency fluctuation while computing capital gains arising from the transfer of shares or debentures of an Indian company. However, where capital gains arise to a non-resident taxpayer pursuant to the transfer of unlisted securities or shares of a private company, section 112(1)(c)(iii) of the IT Act provides that such capital gains should be computed without giving effect to any foreign currency fluctuations. A concessional tax rate of 10% (plus applicable surcharge and cess) is available on such gains. Section 112(1)(c)(ii) of the IT Act, on the other hand, provides a higher tax rate of 20% (plus applicable surcharge and cess) on any other long-term capital gains arising to a non-resident (i.e., other than gains arising from transfer of unlisted securities or shares) while, inter alia, allowing foreign currency fluctuation benefits to such non-residents.Continue Reading Forex Benefit Denied to Non-Resident Investor on Sale of Unlisted Shares
In an upsetting ruling, the Hyderabad ITAT in Vertex Projects LLP has held that even in a court approved merger, the resulting company will have to pay taxes if the assets of the merging companies were transferred to it for less than fair market value.Continue Reading A Court Approved Merger could still be Subject to Tax
The Income Tax Act, 1961 (“IT Act”), allows certain taxpayers to carry forward and set off the losses incurred in a financial year (“FY”)against the income of subsequent FYs, on satisfaction of prescribed conditions. However, to ensure taxpayers do not use such beneficial provisions to escape their tax liabilities, the IT Act also includes anti-abuse provisions, which disallow carry forward or set off of such losses under specified circumstances. In this respect, section 79 of the IT Act disallows a closely held company from carrying forward and setting off its tax losses if there is a change in the beneficial ownership of shares carrying more than 49% of the voting power of the company as compared to the year in which the loss was incurred (subject to certain exceptions). This provision was introduced with the intent to curb the practice of profitable enterprises acquiring loss making undertakings for the sole reason of utilising tax losses accumulated by such undertakings to reduce their taxable business profits.Continue Reading Section 79 cannot be invoked when there is no change in ultimate beneficial shareholding
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. Recently, a similar question arose before the Mumbai Income-tax Appellate Authority (“ITAT”) in Blackstone FP, 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
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.’Continue Reading Your Employee or Mine? – Determining Tax Implications on Hiring Foreign Employees from Related Foreign Entities
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?
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, where the tax authorities sought to tax the gift of ‘Essar’ brand to a family trust.Continue Reading Gift of ‘Brand’ to family trust not taxable
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.Continue Reading Tax motivated transaction ipso facto may not be regarded as sham
In its recent ruling, 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; 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