Income deemed to accrue or arise in India

Section 2 of the Income Tax provides definitions of various terms which are relevant for the purposes of the Act.

Section 9 of the Income Tax provides cases of income, which are deemed to accrue or arise in India. This is a legal fiction created to tax income, which may or may not arise in India and would not have been taxable but for the deeming provision created by this section. Sub-section (1)(i) provides a set of circumstances in which income accruing or arising, directly or indirectly, is taxable in India. One of the limbs of clause (i) is income accruing or arising directly or indirectly through the transfer of a capital asset situate in India. The legislative intent of this clause is to widen the application as it covers incomes, which are accruing or arising directly or indirectly. The section codifies source rule of taxation wherein the state where the actual economic nexus of income is situated has a right to tax the income irrespective of the place of residence of the entity deriving the income. Where corporate structure is created to route funds, the actual gain or income arises only in consequence of the investment made in the activity to which such gains are attributable and not the mode through which such gains are realized. Internationally this principle is recognized by several countries, which provide that the source country has taxation right on the gains derived of offshore transactions where the value is attributable to the underlying assets.

Section 195 of the Income-tax Act requires any person to deduct tax at source before making payments to a non-resident if the income of such non-resident is chargeable to tax in India. “Person”, here, will take its meaning from section 2 and would include all persons, whether resident or non-resident. Therefore, a non-resident person is also required to deduct tax at source before making payments to another non-resident, if the payment represents income of the payee non-resident, chargeable to tax in India. There are no other conditions specified in the Act and if the income of the payee non-resident is chargeable to tax, then tax has to be deducted at source, whether the payment is made by a resident or a non-resident.

Certain judicial pronouncements have created doubts about the scope and purpose of sections 9 and 195. Further, there are certain issues in respect of income deemed to accrue or arise where there are conflicting  decisions of various judicial authorities.

Therefore, there is a need to provide clarificatory retrospective amendment to restate the legislative intent in respect of scope and applicability of section 9 and 195 and also to make other clarificatory amendments for providing certainty in law.

I.   It is, therefore, proposed to amend the Income Tax Act in the following manner:-

(i)   Amend section 9(1)(i) to clarify that the expression ‘through’ shall mean and include and shall be deemed to have always meant and included “by means of”, “in consequence of” or “by reason of”.

(ii)  Amend section 9(1)(i) to clarify that an asset or a capital asset being any share or interest in a company or entity registered or incorporated outside India shall be deemed to be and shall always be deemed to have been situated in India if the share or interest derives, directly or indirectly, its value substantially from the assets located in India.

(iii)  Amend section 2(14) to clarify that ‘property’ includes and shall be deemed to have always included any rights in or in relation to an Indian company, including rights of management or control or any other rights whatsoever.

(iv)  Amend section 2(47) to clarify that ‘transfer’ includes and shall be deemed to have always included disposing of or parting with an asset or any interest therein, or creating any interest in any asset in any manner whatsoever, directly or indirectly, absolutely or conditionally, voluntarily or involuntarily by way of an agreement (whether entered into in India or outside India) or otherwise, notwithstanding that such transfer of rights has been characterized as being effected or dependent upon or flowing from the transfer of a share or shares of a company registered or incorporated outside India.

(v)   Amend section 195(1) to clarify that obligation to comply with sub-section (1) and to make deduction thereunder applies and shall be deemed to have always applied and extends and shall be deemed to have always extended to all persons, resident or non-resident, whether or not the non-resident has:-

(a)   a residence or place of business or business connection in India; or

(b)   any other presence in any manner whatsoever in India.

These amendments will take effect retrospectively from 1st April, 1962 and will accordingly apply in relation to the assessment year 1962-63 and subsequent assessment years.

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