The government signed a pact with its Singapore counterpart on 30th Dec, 2016, amending their decade-old tax treaty, gaining indirect taxation in India rights over capital gains. This is the third double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) amended so far this financial year with a zero or low tax jurisdiction. The other two were with Mauritius and Cyprus. According to tax consultants in India, Mauritius would be the most attractive source of investments into India for debt funds and Singapore for equity investments. Mirroring the revised IndiaMauritius DTAA, the government has some grandfathering provisions (having the old rule continuing to apply for some existing situations, with the new one for all future cases) and a two-year transition benefit to investments from Singapore. The revised pact will take effect from April 1, 2017. For two years from that date, capital gains tax will be imposed at 50 per cent of the prevailing domestic rate. The short-term rate is 15 per cent at present. The full rate will apply from April 1, 2019.
“2016 has been historic, with all three tax treaties amended… The treaties were misused to round-trip domestic black money and bring it back to India through these routes. There has been a significant battle by India against black money. It is a happy coincidence that by amending these treaties, there has been a burial to the black money route that existed,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on the revised DTAA. Mauritius and Singapore are the top two sources for direct foreign investment in India, about half of the total direct flow. Total FDI from Mauritius over the past decade and a half is USD 95.9 billion. That from Singapore is USD 45.8 bn The concessional rate of 50 per cent would be subject to fulfilment of conditions of Limitation of Benefit (LOB), an expenditure of at least Rs. 50 lakh in Singapore in the previous financial year. It is Rs.27 lakh in the case of Mauritius.
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