India, Mauritius to amend tax treaty

11 May 2016 | Written by Achin Garg; Edited by Vaneet Randhawa

India will levy a capital gains tax on the investments routed through Mauritius from 1st April 2017, bringing an end to the 3-decade old tax exemption on such investments.

The move will help improve transparency and check tax evasion and avoidance.

It will also help bring parity between the domestic investments and foreign investments. Domestic investors had complained of preferential treatment to foreign investors.

In context: Plugging the Indian treaties with Singapore, Mauritius

About Indo-Mauritus tax treaty

The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Mauritius is a treaty that aims to prevent double taxation, both in India and Mauritius, of business entities.

DTAA was aimed at economic cooperation, bringing certainty in taxation regime, and facilitating a flow of investment, technology, and services between nations.

According to the tax treaty, capital gains in Mauritius will be taxed in Mauritius.

Mauritius routeMauritius becomes major investment source for India

Capital gains tax refers to the tax on the profit arising out of the sale of capital assets at a price higher than its purchase price.

Mauritius' minimal 3% capital gains tax rate against India's 15-20% makes Mauritius the most attractive conduit for investments in India.

This route was being misused for tax avoidance by routing investments through shell companies established in Mauritius.

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1/3rd investments route through Mauritius

Between 2000-2015, Mauritius was the largest source of total Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in India accounting for $94 billion or 1/3rd of the total investments in India.

11 May 2016India, Mauritius to amend tax treaty

A check against shell companies

As a check against shell companies, the amended tax treaty provides for a 'limitation of benefit' clause, under which, a company needs to spend a minimum of Rs.27 lakhs in Mauritius to enjoy the benefits of the Indo-Mauritius DTAA.
Markets reacts tumultuously

Reactions Markets reacts tumultuously

The markets reacted in a knee-jerk manner by falling 1.4% or 360 points on opening; however, they later recovered due to the approach adopted by the government.

An 11-month buffer has been given to the investors as the said amendments will be applicable from 1st Apr'17.

Investments made before 1st Apr'17 would not be taxed and 50% tax rebate will be available till Apr'19.

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Investments from Singapore will also be affected

The amendments in the Mauritius treaty will also impact the Singapore treaty as the latter is linked to the Mauritius treaty. In other words, India will also levy capital gains tax on investments from Singapore.

31 Dec 2016India amends treaty with Singapore to curb black money

India amended its tax treaty with Singapore to curb black money that will also affect Mauritius.

Under the new amendment the "capital gains tax will be implemented on investments in India's capital markets that come from Singapore."

From 2017 till 2 years, the tax will be fixed at "50% of the prevailing domestic rate, and the full rate will apply from April 2019."

Mauritius and Singapore best options to route money to India

Mauritius and Singapore are the favoured destinations for foreign investors routing money to India because of the tax benefits to these countries: "Of the total FDI inflows of USD 29.4 billion in April- December 2015-16, Mauritius and Singapore accounted for USD 17 billion."