Double taxation sword hangs over NRIs’ head, seek SC relief

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Gaurav Baid, the 27-year previous NRI chartered accountant, whose writ petition earlier than the Supreme Court triggered a response from India’s direct tax authority, will as soon as once more knock on the court docket’s door. Baid, who works in Dubai, would both transfer a recent petition or file an utility difficult the latest communiqué from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) which gave no relief to NRIs who, having overstayed in India as a result of pandemic, now concern that their abroad earnings can be taxed by the Indian authorities.

“Mr. Baid intends to re-approach the Supreme Court for appropriate relief… the government has refused to grant general relaxation sought by us,” stated Amish Tandon, accomplice, Innovatus Law Offices which is representing Baid.

Not solely has CBDT avoided giving a blanket relief, its round this week could have worsened the state of affairs for a lot of NRIs like Baid. While the tax physique has promised there can be no “double taxation” — and, the dedication of residence shall be performed on the idea of related double tax avoidance settlement (DTAA) — such an assurance is meaningless for NRIs working in UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahamas, or in another nation the place there isn’t a direct tax on earnings.

Residency standing, beneath Indian legislation, is set by the period of bodily presence within the nation: an individual is taken into account resident if the interval of keep in India is 182 days or extra; or, if the individual has greater than Rs15 lakh home earnings and stays for 120 days or extra. Unlike a resident whose international earnings is taxed, NRIs need to pay tax on earnings earned in India however not on earnings earned outdoors India. So, most NRIs plan their go to and period of keep in India to fulfill the residency situation and keep away from paying tax in India on what they earn outdoors India.

“The CBDT circular simply reiterates the existing regulations and provides no relief which most NRIs had hoped for. No exemption for forced stay in India due to COVID has been given as the sole purpose of the circular is to ensure that a person does not escape tax by being non-resident in both countries. But now NRIs have to apply for specific relief on a case to case basis and the matter is left to the discretion of the tax department,” stated Mitil Chokshi, accomplice, Chokshi & Chokshi.

The tax board has requested NRIs who could expertise “double taxation” within the current monetary yr to file illustration in a prescribed kind by March 31. “But NRIs (like Baid) from the UAE, who had to involuntarily reside in India for a period of more than 182 days and whose grouse may not be related to ‘double taxation’ but to ‘taxation of income in India’ which otherwise would not have been taxed at all on account of the tax neutral nature of UAE may not have the option to make a representation to the government,” stated Tandon.

Thanks to both suspension or disruption of flights, Baid, who works as an account supervisor with Kuber Trading FZE in UAE, might go away India solely on October 5, 2020 — by when the 182-day residency situation had been breached. Soon after the lockdown final yr, the federal government issued a leisure to exclude the variety of days keep in India — from twenty second March, 2020 to thirty first March, 2020 — for the monetary yr 2019-20. Baid’s prayer earlier than the apex court docket was that an individual who was assessed as NRI in FY 2019-20, ought to be thought of as NRI in FY20-21 on account of the pandemic, whatever the variety of days spent in India.

According to senior chartered accountant Dilip Lakhani, “The tie breaker rule in DTAAs — which comes into play when a person is considered resident of two countries — will also not help NRIs stranded here. The conditions to be satisfied under this rule will in most cases lead to NRIs having residency in India — thus exposing their global income to taxation here.”

There are greater than 13 million NRIs unfold throughout 209 international locations, and plenty of of them seek employment and pursue enterprise in tax impartial jurisdictions like UAE. Indeed, the round might influence many NRIs who’re based mostly out of nations the place the incidence of direct tax is decrease than that of India.

HIGHLIGHTS

# NRIs who keep 182 or extra days need to pay tax on international earnings

# NRIs caught in India have been hoping for a relief from govt

# CBDT merely assured there can be no “double taxation”

# This has no consequence for NRIs from Gulf the place there isn’t a earnings tax

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