Tax Benefits to be Slashed as India, Mauritius Ink New Deal

The recent amendment to the India-Mauritius tax treaty marks a significant shift in the tax landscape for investors. Signed on March 7th in Port Louis, this protocol signals substantial changes affecting tax reliefs and benefits previously enjoyed by investors from Mauritius.

The Impact of the India Mauritius Tax Treaty Amendment

Reduction of Tax Benefits

The amendment will substantially reduce tax benefits for investors based in Mauritius operating in India, impacting various income streams such as dividends, royalties, and technical fees.

Impact on Indian High Net-worth Individuals (HNIs)

Indian HNIs utilizing Mauritius as a tax avoidance route will also feel the impact of these changes, potentially altering their tax planning strategies.

Retrospective Effect

Tax experts speculate that the amendments could have a retrospective effect, potentially scrutinizing capital gains tax exemptions for investments made from Mauritius before April 1, 2017.

Compliance with International Standards

OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Framework

The latest protocol aligns with the OECD’s BEPS framework, aiming to reinforce anti-abuse provisions and curb tax evasion and avoidance practices.

Principal-Purpose Test (PPT)

Under the PPT, tax benefits will be denied if obtaining the treaty benefit is deemed one of the principal purposes of the party seeking to rely on the double tax treaty.

Expert Opinions

Paradigm Shift in Treaty Provisions

Experts view the amendment as a paradigm shift in the applicability of treaty provisions, signaling a stricter stance on tax avoidance and evasion.

Potential Surge in Litigation

The new norms may lead to a surge in litigation as investors from Mauritius will be required to demonstrate the commercial rationale behind their transactions to substantiate treaty benefits.

Impact on Indian Tax Authorities

While the PPT provides India with a potent tool to deny treaty benefits in cases of aggressive tax planning, it may also raise complexities for tax authorities.

Government’s Intentions

The amendment reflects the government’s intent to discourage tax planning and avoidance activities, encouraging investments to come directly to India through home countries.

Signing of the Protocol

The protocol was signed by Nandini Singla, High Commissioner of India to Mauritius, and Dharam Dev Manraj, Financial Secretary of Mauritius, following approval by the Mauritius Cabinet in February.

FAQ

What are the main changes introduced by the India Mauritius Tax Treaty Amendment?

The amendment introduces significant changes affecting tax reliefs and benefits for investors from Mauritius operating in India, particularly impacting dividends, royalties, and technical fees.

Will Indian HNIs be affected by the treaty amendment?

Yes, Indian HNIs utilizing Mauritius for tax avoidance may also feel the impact of these changes on their tax planning strategies.

How does the amendment align with international standards?

The amendment aligns with the OECD’s BEPS framework, reinforcing anti-abuse provisions to curb tax evasion and avoidance practices.

What is the Principal-Purpose Test (PPT)?

The PPT denies tax benefits if obtaining the treaty benefit is deemed one of the principal purposes of the party relying on the double tax treaty.

How will the treaty amendment affect litigation?

The new norms may lead to a surge in litigation as investors from Mauritius will need to substantiate the commercial rationale behind their transactions to justify treaty benefits.

What are the government’s intentions behind the treaty amendment?

The government aims to discourage tax planning and avoidance activities, encouraging investments to come directly to India through home countries.

Conclusion

The India Mauritius tax treaty amendment represents a significant shift in tax regulations, aimed at aligning with international standards and curbing tax evasion and avoidance practices. While it may lead to increased complexities and potential litigation, its overarching goal is to foster transparent and direct investment flows into India.