Taxation Aspects of Multinational Corporations in India

Foreign non-resident business entities may have business activities in a variety of ways. In its simplest form this can take the form of individual transactions in the nature of exports or import of goods, lending or borrowing of money, sale of technical know how to an Indian enterprise, a foreign air-liner touching an Indian airport and booking cargo or passengers, etc. various tax issues arise on accounts of such activities.

The government wants to encourage foreign enterprises to engage in certain types of business activities in India, which in its opinion its desirable for achieving a balanced economic growth. This takes us to the last aspect of activities which enjoy tax incentives in India. The related issues about the taxation of the Multinational Corporations (MNCs) are as follows:

1. Taxation of Transactions and Operations of MNCs in India

Taxation of transactions and operations of MNCs fully depends on the definition of income that is taxable in India, qualification of taxable income and the tax rates.

Income that is taxable in India

All Income accruing or arising whether directly or indirectly through or from any business connection in India

  1. Salary is deemed to be earned in India if it is either payable for services rendered in India or payable by Indian Government to a citizen of India for services rendered outside India.
  2. Dividend paid by Indian Company outside India
  3. Income by the ways of interest by Indian Government.
  4. Income by the way of Royalty
  5. Income by the way of fees for technical services.
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Direct and Indirect Taxes

Taxes are classified as direct tax and indirect tax. But the meaning of these two types of taxes is not clear. For a long time economists interpreted these two types in different ways. For instance, one group of economists considered taxes on production as direct taxes and those on consumption as indirect taxes. J.S. Mill distinguished these two types of taxes in terms of the ability to shift the tax. Any person on whom the tax is imposed, if he himself pays the tax, it is called direct tax and if he is able to shift the tax to somebody who ultimately pays it then it is called indirect tax. For example, income tax is paid by a person as it is levied on the income earned by him, so it is a direct tax. On the other hand the sales tax imposed on the seller is shifted to the buyer. Now-a-days the distinction between direct and indirect taxes is explained with reference to the basis of assessments and not on the point of assessment. Hence, taxes assessed on the basis of income are called direct taxes and those assessed on the basis of expenditure are called indirect taxes. However, even this classification is not free from difficulties. For instance, when one man’s income is treated as another man’s expenditure, tax on one man’s income may become the tax on another man’s expenditure. Hence, till date there has been no satisfactory distinction between direct and indirect taxes. However, in practice this distinction is retained more for the purpose of grouping the different taxes.… Read the rest

Overview of Tax Regime in India

DIRECT TAXES Individual Income Tax & Corporate Tax

The provisions relating to income tax are contained in the Income Tax Act 1961 and the Income Tax Rules 1962. The Income Tax Department is governed by the Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT) which is part of the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance. In terms of the Income Tax Act, 1961, a tax on income is levied on individuals, corporations and body of persons. Tax rates are prescribed by the government in the Finance Act, popularly known as Budget, every year.

The Government of India has recently taken initiatives to reform and simplify the language and structure of the direct tax laws into a single legislation – the Direct Taxes Code (DTC). After public consultation the Direct Taxes Code 2010 was placed before the Indian Parliament on 30 August 2010, when passed DTC will replace the Income Tax Act of 1961. The DTC consolidates the provisions for Direct Tax namely the income tax and wealth tax. When it comes into effect, probably April 2012, it is likely to have significant impact on the tax payers especially the business community.

In the case of Individuals, incomes from salary, house and property, business & profession, capital gains and other sources are subject to tax. Women and Senior citizens are extended some special privileges. Individuals’ incomes are subjected to a progressive rate system. Tax treatment differs depending on the residence status.

Income of the company is computed and assessed separately in the hands of the company.… Read the rest

Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is part of the proposed tax reforms that centre round evolving an efficient consumption tax system in the country. Presently, there are parallel systems of indirect taxation at the central and state levels.

In the Union Budget for the year 2006-2007, Finance Minister proposed that India should move towards national level Goods and Services Tax that should be shared between the Centre and the States. He proposed to set April 1, 2010 as the date for introducing the goods and service tax (GST).

Goods and Services Tax is proposed to be an indirect tax levied on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods and services at a national level concurrently by Central and State Governments. This Integration of goods and services taxation would end the distortions of differential taxation treatments of manufacturing and service sector.

The Central and State governments both charge a multitude of indirect taxes at present. The Central government charges tax Customs duty, Excise duty, Central sales tax (CST) and Service tax. The State governments charge Sales tax or Value Added Tax (VAT), Entry tax, Octroi, Stamp duty and taxes on transportation of goods and services. The introduction of goods and services tax will lead to the abolition of these taxes. This will eliminate effect of multiple taxation layers.

The first step towards introducing Goods and Services Tax is to progressively converge the service tax rate and the CENVAT rate at the same tax rate. It aims to replace Service tax, CENVAT and VAT from April, 2010.… Read the rest

Features of Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is consumption tax that charged the buyers to pay for a wide range of domestic & international products, goods and services. In some countries it is also called Value Added Tax. It is a multi-stage tax on domestic consumption levied on taxable supplies of goods and services. GST imposed on every level of a product from raw materials all the way to finished goods. Consumers still need to pay income tax as GST and income tax is totally different. It is a consumption tax charged on imports items and also value added to goods and services provided by a business to the end user. Goods And Services Tax will be borne by the end-user or consumer and is not intended to add burden to businesses.

Benefits of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Eliminates cascading effects

Goods and Services Tax (GST) also enable the minimization of distortions, therefore GST is preferable. The simple excises or the turnover taxes results in the unintended effect of taxing an output together with its input content more than once. Furthermore, it is also applying a tax on the earlier paid input tax leading to cascading. It causes producers to move their capital or resources away from the production of one output to another one which does not suffer from cascading. GST gives credit for input tax earlier paid, avoid the distortion as represented by misallocation or redirection of resources from one economic activity to another.

In addition, GST is the only tax that offers positive alternatives to the negative impact of indirect taxation.… Read the rest

Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT) and Computation of Book Profits

Provisions of MAT for payment of tax by certain companies (Section 115JB]

Tax payable for any assessment year cannot he less than 15% of book profit: Where in the case of a company, the income-tax payable on the total income as computed under the Income-tax Act, is less than15% of its book profit, such book profit shall be deemed to be the total income of the assessee and the tax payable by the assessee on such total income (book profit) shall be the amount of the income-tax at the rate of 15%.

Allowing tax credit in respect of tax paid on deemed income under MAT provisions against tax liability in subsequent years (Section 115JAA]

Where any amount of tax is paid under section 115J B (1) of Income Tax Act by a company for any assessment year beginning on or after 1-4-2006, credit in respect of the taxes so paid for such assessment year shall be allowed on the difference of the tax paid under section 115J8 of Income Tax Act and the amount of tax payable by the company on its total income computed in accordance with the other provisions of the Act.

The amount of tax credit so determined shall be allowed to be carried forward and set off in a year when the tax becomes payable on the total income computed under the regular provisions. However, no carry forward shall be allowed beyond the seventh assessment year immediately succeeding the assessment year in which the tax credit becomes allowable.… Read the rest