India – Tax Update
A YEAR ON, THE RESERVE BANK OF INDIA NOTIFIES REGULATIONS ON CROSS BORDER MERGERS
INDIA’S BUDGET 2018-19 – KEY HIGHLIGHTS
INDIA’S TAX REGULATOR “CLARIFIES” INDIRECT TRANSFER PROVISIONS IN CASE OF REDEMPTION OF SHARES OUTSIDE INDIA
Under the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the “ IT Act”), the income of a non-resident will be deemed to accrue or arise in India if it arises, directly or indirectly, through or from any business connection, property, asset or source of income, or from a transfer of a capital asset (shares or other interest) situated in India. The indirect transfer provision was introduced in the Finance Act, 2012, by way of Explanation 5 to Section 9(1)(i) of the IT Act, clarifying that an offshore capital asset will be treated as situated in India if it substantially derives its value (directly or indirectly) from assets located in India.
NTT DOCOMO FINDS ITSELF IN A TAX BIND
On March 25, 2009, NTT DoCoMo Inc., a company incorporated in Japan (“ NTT”), entered into a shareholders’ agreement with Tata Teleservices Ltd. (“TTL”). Under the terms of the agreement, it was agreed that if TTL failed to satisfy certain “key performance indicators” within a period of five (5) years, then TTL would be required to find a buyer to purchase NTT’s shares (26%) of TTL at the sale price that was higher of: (a) the fair value of those shares as of March 31, 2014; or (b) 50% of the price at which NTT purchased those shares. In July 2014, when TTL could not fulfill the performance indicators and, thereafter, could not find a buyer to purchase NTT’s shares, NTT requested TTL to buy the shares at the price of INR58.04 per share.
FURTHER EXEMPTIONS ON LONG TERM CAPITAL GAINS IN INDIA
Under the existing provisions of section 10(38) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the “IT Act”), income arising from the transfer of a long term capital asset, being equity shares of a listed company or units of an equity oriented fund, is exempt from capital gains tax if the sale transaction is chargeable to Securities Transaction Tax (“ STT”) under Chapter VII of the Finance (No.2) Act, 2004 (the “Tax Exemption”)
DELHI TRIBUNAL AFFIRMS TAX ON INDIRECT SHARE TRANSFERS DERIVING VALUE FROM ASSETS IN INDIA
Under the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the “IT Act”), the income of a non-resident is deemed to accrue or arise in India, inter alia, if it arises, directly or indirectly, through the transfer of a capital asset situated in India. The Finance Act, 2012, introduced an explanation to section 9(1)(i) of the IT Act, under which an indirect transfer of shares or an interest in a company or entity registered or incorporated outside India substantially deriving its value from assets located in India was subjected to capital gains tax in India on the theory that the offshore capital asset would be regarded as situated in India if it substantially derived its value (directly or indirectly) from assets located in India.
INDIA BUDGET 2017-18 – KEY HIGHLIGHTS
India’s Union Budget (the “Budget”) was announced on February 1, 2017, and the Finance Bill, 2017 (the “ Finance Bill”) was tabled in Parliament. Most of the income tax proposals in the Finance Bill will be effective from the financial year commencing on April 1, 2017, unless specified otherwise. The Finance Bill will be discussed in Parliament before its enactment, and therefore, it is likely that the Finance Bill may be amended as a result of these discussions.
THE INDIA-SINGAPORE TAX TREATY HAS BEEN AMENDED
The bilateral double taxation avoidance agreement between India and Singapore (the “Singapore DTAA”) has been amended. On December 30, 2016, India’s Central Board of Direct Taxes announced the signing of the protocol (the “Protocol”) amending the Singapore DTAA. The Protocol will be effective from April 1, 2017. Although the text of the Protocol is awaited (as it has not as yet been ratified by the India’s Ministry of Finance), the key changes to the Singapore DTAA and their impact are listed below.