Under the existing provisions contained in section 44BB(1) of the Income-tax Act, income of a non-resident taxpayer who is engaged in the business of providing services or facilities in connection with, or supplying plant and machinery on hire used, or to be used, in the prospecting for, or extraction or production of, mineral oils is computed at ten per cent. of the aggregate of the amounts paid.

Section 44DA provides the procedure for computing income of a non-resident, including a foreign company, by way of royalty or fee for technical services, in case the right, property or contract giving rise to such income are effectively connected with the permanent establishment of the said non-resident. This income is computed as per the books of account maintained by the assessee.

Section 1 15A provides the rate of taxation in respect of income of a non-resident, including a foreign company, in the nature of royalty or fee for technical services, other than the income referred to in section 44DA i.e., income in the nature of royalty and fee for technical services which is not connected with the permanent establishment of the non-resident.

Combined effect of the provisions of sections 44BB, 44DA and 1 15A is that if the income of a non-resident is in the nature of fee for technical services, it shall be taxable under the provisions of either section 44DA or section 1 15A irrespective of the business to which it relates. Section 44BB applies only in a case where consideration is for services and other facilities relating to exploration activity which are not in the nature of technical services. However, owing to judicial pronouncements, doubts have been raised regarding the scope of section 44BB vis-à-vis section 44DA as to whether fee for technical services relating to the exploration sector would also be covered under the presumptive taxation provisions of section 44BB.

In order to remove doubts and clarify the distinct scheme of taxation of income by way of fee for technical services, it is proposed to amend the proviso to section 44BB so as to exclude the applicability of section 44BB to the income which is covered under section 44DA. Similarly, section 44DA is also proposed to be amended to provide that provisions of section 44BB shall not apply to the income covered under section 44DA.

These amendments are proposed to take effect from 1st April 2011 and will, accordingly, apply in relation to the assessment year 2011-12 and subsequent years.

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