Changes To India-Mauritius Tax Treaty: move aimed at tackling black money, round tripping

Date: May 12, 2016

Mauritius domestic tax

The government has decided to amend a three-decade old treaty with Mauritius, which will enable India to impose capital gains tax on investments coming from the African island nation starting next year.India and Mauritius signed the protocol for amendment of the convention for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and capital gains.

Key features:-

1) Source-based taxation of capital gains on shares: With this Protocol, India gets taxation rights on capital gains arising from alienation of shares acquired on or after 1st April, 2017 in a company resident in India with effect from financial year 2017-18, while simultaneously protection to investments in shares acquired before 1st April, 2017 has also been provided. Further, in respect of such capital gains arising during the transition period from 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2019, the tax rate will be limited to 50% of the domestic tax rate of India, subject to the fulfillment of the conditions in the Limitation of Benefits Article. Taxation in India at full domestic tax rate will take place from financial year 2019-20 onwards.

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2) Limitation of Benefits (LOB): The benefit of 50% reduction in tax rate during the transition period from 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2019 shall be subject to LOB Article, whereby a resident of Mauritius (including a shell / conduit company) will not be entitled to benefits of 50% reduction in tax rate, if it fails the main purpose test and bonafide business test. A resident is deemed to be a shell/ conduit company, if its total expenditure on operations in Mauritius is less than Rs. 2,700,000 (Mauritian Rupees 1,500,000) in the immediately preceding 12 months.
3) Source-based taxation of interest income of banks: Interest arising in India to Mauritian resident banks will be subject to withholding tax in India at the rate of 7.5% in respect of debt claims or loans made after 31st March, 2017. However, interest income of Mauritian resident banks in respect of debt-claims existing on or before 31st March, 2017 shall be exempt from tax in India.
4) The Protocol also provides for updation of Exchange of Information Article as per international standard, provision for assistance in collection of taxes, source-based taxation of other income, amongst other changes.
India had in 1983 signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty with the island nation of just 1.3 million people which had become one of the biggest single source of foreign direct investment into India.