Lockdown Period Not to Be Counted For Determining Residency Status of NRIS, Foreign Nationals ; CBDT clarifies in respect of residency under section 6 of the Income-tax Act, 1961
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday (8th May, 2020) allowed discounting of prolonged stay period in the country for determining the residency status, to provide relief to people who may have technically become residents as per income tax rules due to travel restrictions and are forced to offer their global income to tax here.
Henceforth Ministry of Finance, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) vide their Circular No. 11 of 2020, Friday, May 08, 2020 issued a circular wherein it was clarified in respect of residency under Section 6 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 that the lockdown period will not be counted to determine NRIs residency status for the purpose of computation of tax liability.
This is a much welcome and awaited circular, which takes cognisance of concerns of NRIs and other foreigners who arrived in India but could not return. The nationwide lockdown since March 25 and cancellation of international flights to contain the spread of COVID-19 has forced non-resident Indians (NRI) and foreign nationals to prolong their stay in India.
Section 6 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (the Act) contains provisions relating to residency of a person. The status of an individual as to whether he is resident in India or a non-resident or not ordinarily resident, is dependent, inter-alia, on the period for which the person is in India during a year.
Bare language from the circular:
Various representations have been received stating that there are number of individuals who had come on a visit to India during the previous year 2019-20 for a particular durationand intended to leave India before the end of the previous year for maintaining their status as non-resident or not ordinary resident in India. However due to declaration of the lockdown and suspension of international flights owing to outbreak of Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19), they are required to prolong their stay in India. Concerns have been expressed that they may involuntarily end up becoming Indian residents without any intention to do so.
In order to avoid genuine hardship in such cases, the CBDT has decided vide circular no 11 dated May 8, 2020, that for the purposes of determining the residential status under section 6 of the Act during the previous year 2019-20 in respect of an individual who has come to India on a visit before 22nd March, 2020 and:
Further, as the lockdown continues during the Financial Year 2020-21 and it is not yet clear as to when international flight operations would resume, a circular excluding the period of stay of these individuals up to the date of normalisation of international flight operations, for determination of the residential status for the previous year 2020-21 shall be issued after the said normalisation.
|Section – 6, Income-tax Act, 1961|
|Residence in India.
6. For the purposes of this Act,—
(1) An individual is said to be resident in India in any previous year, if he—
(a) is in India in that year for a period or periods amounting in all to one hundred and eighty-two days or more ; or
(c) having within the four years preceding that year been in India for a period or periods amounting in all to three hundred and sixty-five days or more, is in India for a period or periods amounting in all to sixty days or more in that year.
Explanation. 1—In the case of an individual,—
(a) being a citizen of India, who leaves India in any previous year as a member of the crew of an Indian ship as defined in clause (18) of section 3 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 (44 of 1958), or for the purposes of employment outside India, the provisions of sub-clause (c) shall apply in relation to that year as if for the words “sixty days”, occurring therein, the words “one hundred and eighty-two days” had been substituted ;
(b) being a citizen of India, or a person of Indian origin within the meaning of Explanation to clause (e) of section 115C, who, being outside India, comes on a visit to India in any previous year, the provisions of sub-clause (c) shall apply in relation to that year as if for the words “sixty days”, occurring therein, the words “one hundred and eighty-two days” had been substituted.
Explanation 2.—For the purposes of this clause, in the case of an individual, being a citizen of India and a member of the crew of a foreign bound ship leaving India, the period or periods of stay in India shall, in respect of such voyage, be determined in the manner and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed.
(2) A Hindu undivided family, firm or other association of persons is said to be resident in India in any previous year in every case except where during that year the control and management of its affairs is situated wholly outside India.
(3) A company is said to be a resident in India in any previous year, if—
(i) it is an Indian company; or
(ii) its place of effective management, in that year, is in India.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this clause “place of effective management” means a place where key management and commercial decisions that are necessary for the conduct of business of an entity as a whole are, in substance made.
(4) Every other person is said to be resident in India in any previous year in every case, except where during that year the control and management of his affairs is situated wholly outside India.
(5) If a person is resident in India in a previous year relevant to an assessment year in respect of any source of income, he shall be deemed to be resident in India in the previous year relevant to the assessment year in respect of each of his other sources of income.
(6) A person is said to be “not ordinarily resident” in India in any previous year if such person is—
(a) an individual who has been a non-resident in India in nine out of the ten previous years preceding that year, or has during the seven previous years preceding that year been in India for a period of, or periods amounting in all to, seven hundred and twenty-nine days or less; or
(b) a Hindu undivided family whose manager has been a non-resident in India in nine out of the ten previous years preceding that year, or has during the seven previous years preceding that year been in India for a period of, or periods amounting in all to, seven hundred and twenty-nine days or less.
Mr Sanjay Sanghvi, a partner at Khaitan & Co, said that given that there is lot of uncertainty still persisting around Covid-19 lockdown/travel restriction, it will be in the fitness of the things if the government can defer the amended law concerning the number of days’ presence in India for FY 20-21 by at least a year.