LRS was brought in as a relief to all Indian Residents to remit money outside India. Intially brought in partial capital account convertibility by allowing specified capital account transactions up to the LRS limit.
It is available to all Resident Individuals including minors. Up to USD 250,000 per financial year can be remitted every Financial Year. It was introduced on February 4, 2004, with a limit of USD 25,000. The limit has increased over the years but reduced in between due to forex reserve position . All earlier facilities for release of exchange or for remittances for current account transactions are now subsumed under the overall limit of USD 250,000 – no separate limits for gifts, donations, etc.
LRS when introduced was with clear objective to allow Resident Individuals to remit funds within LRS limit for “any purpose”: For any Current Account Transaction; or For any Capital Account Transaction; or For a combination of both!. Funds up to the limit would be partial capital account convertibility. It can be used to purchase any asset outside India without approval of RBI . Initially Limit of LRS was in addition to limit under Schedule III. However now it is quire restrictive and allows only permitted transactions to be remitted.
How it operates
Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) was introduced by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) vide A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 64 in 2004 as liberalization measure to facilitate resident individuals to remit funds outside India. Following is the Regulatory framework-
Section 4 of FEMA: Blanket prohibition: No person resident in India shall acquire, hold, own, possess or transfer any foreign exchange, foreign security or any immovable property situated outside India
Section 5 of FEMA: Any person may sell or draw foreign exchange to or from an authorised person if such sale or drawal is a current account transaction:
Provided that Central Government may, in public interest and in consultation with RBI, impose such reasonable restrictions for current account transactions as may be prescribed
FEM (Current Account Transaction) Rules, 2000
Section 6 of FEMA:
Section 6(1) – Any person may sell or draw forex for a capital account transaction subject to
Sections 6(2) and 6(3) gave powers to RBI to prescribe, regulate, prohibit or restrict transactions
Section 6(3) deleted post Finance Act 2015, Notifications now issued by Government
> Legislated by Ministry of Finance, Regulated by RBI & Enforced by ED
Master Direction on LRS- FED Master Direction No. 7/2015-16 updated up to 20/06/2018
FAQ updated till 13 Feb 2019
It was introduced in 2004. Later drastic change in position brought in from May 2007 LRS can be used to remit for any ‘permissible’ current or capital account transaction or a combination of both. No guidance on what is ‘permissible’ transaction in 2007. Paradoxical situation as LRS was introduced to allow transactions which required prior approval. Permissible capital account transactions under LRS specified only in 2015.
LRS – LRS specifies “permissible” current account transactions
Following are the permissible ” current account transactions-
(i) Private visits to any country (except Nepal and Bhutan).
(ii) Gift or donation.
(iii) Going abroad for employment.
(v) Maintenance of close relatives abroad.
(vi) Travel for business or attending a conference or specialised training; or for meeting expenses for meeting medical expenses, or check-up abroad; or for accompanying as attendant to a patient going abroad for medical treatment/ check-up.
(vii) Expenses in connection with medical treatment abroad.
(viii) Studies abroad.
(ix) Any other current account transaction Permitted Current Account Remittances
Prior Approval needed from RBI for remittance beyond LRS limit for specified current account transactions Is possible if circumstances warrant need for enhanced remittance eg Approval not required for Emigration, Medical Treatment and Studies abroad. It can be done by supported self-declaration. Though Banks might ask for more documentation .
Limits for Gifts and Donations are now subsumed under LRS limit
Gift of funds by one resident to another resident outside India not allowed
Any gift made to a resident outside India needs to be brought back to India.
Shares allowed to be retained abroad . The intention is to cover portfolio shares.
LRS – Capital Account Transactions
Following Capital Account Transactions are permitted for remmitance-
Capital Account transaction -other than those specifically permitted not allowed:
LRS- Immovable Property Outside India
Resident individual can send remittances under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme for purchasing IP outside India.
Such Immovable Properties can be
> Funds from lease and sale can be retained outside India
> Funds retained can be reinvested
> Multiple LRS remittances can be clubbed for purchase of high value IP
> One individual can remit USD 250,000 in foreign bank account over multiple years until sufficient funds are collected
Points to note: Remittance to non-cooperative countries listed by FATF not allowed under LRS
A Resident can acquire property purchased through LRS by inheritance or gift
The RI Can retain such IP abroad from 21.1.2016 as per Notf. 7(R), However, on sale of such property, funds will have to be brought back to India. Incomes earned on such property will also have to be brought back to India.
LRS-ODI by Resident Individuals
Resident Individuals were allowed to invest in shares–both listed and unlisted since 2004 when the LRS was allowed. Suddenly FAQs of 17th September 2010 stated for first time that LRS cannot be used to setup company abroad . (Point (v) in reply to Q. 3 of the FAQ) .Though FAQ is not law Master Circulars of 2011 and 2012 still stated that investment can be made in shares (listed or otherwise). This created confusion on investment in shares.
Present Status-Now the RBI has issued notification to allow JV/WOS outside India under LRS-ODI from 5th August 2013 . Notification No. FEMA. 263/RB-2013.
Valuation of shares to be done as prescribed
RI Cannot invest in countries identified as “non-cooperative countries and territories” by FATF- North Korea & Iran.
Resident individual should not be on Reserve Bank’s Exporters Caution List or List of defaulters to the banking system or under investigation by any investigation/enforcement agency or regulatory body.
LRS-ODI by Resident Individuals – Reporting & Disinvestment
Prohibitions Under LRS
Following transactions are prohibited-
Consequences of non-disclosure under FEMA
What are the disclosure requirement of LRS transaction.
Genrally No requirements for disclosure under FEMA – If investment is in line with FEMA, no consequences even if not disclosed under Income-tax. If investment made violating FEMA, stringent consequences will follow which includes ED action. FEMA is now more draconian than FERA for foreign assets. It may be noted that Prosecution which was absent from FEMA earlier now part of it again. Now Seizure of equivalent assets in India is also allowed to ED. Section 37A introduced vide Finance Act, 2015 in FEMA for criminal offence. In many cases already applied by ED to seize assets in India. it c an also lead to penalty and prosecution. In addition to FEMA consequences under Black Money Act primary and substantial.
LRS – Compounding
LRS violations can be compounded with RBI.
Only route to avoid enforcement by ED. Compounding means you are seeking forgiveness.The typical procedure requires violations would need to be regularized before they can be compounded. Regularisation can be in the form of filing of forms if investment or transaction is allowed under FEMA at present Fees should be token and violations are technical in nature. It can be compounded even if transaction was not permissible earlier. Generally Regularization can be in form of “cease & desist” resulting in winding up of structure or sale of investment in cases where transaction is not permissible under FEMA. The Fee can consider actual gains at the discretion of the Officer. Further Intention and severity can be determining factors
Foreign Assets Disclosure- Under ITR Forms
Though remittance of fund under LRS is under automatic route and investment can be made overseas. One shall keep in mind the requirement of disclosure of foreign assets under income tax return-
Now it is Mandated as part of Income-tax Forms as Schedule FA
Schedule FA covers:
Foreign Equity & Debt Interest in any entity
Foreign Cash Value Insurance or Annuity Contract
Financial Interest in any Entity
Any other Capital Asset
Accounts with Signing Authority
Any other “income” derived from source outside India not included above and income under the head business or profession
The LRS facility is a genuinely generous facilty to remit Funds out of India. It shall be used carefully compiling all requirement under scheme which gets updated from time to time.
For any query author can be contacted at dmantri(at)Hotmail(dot)com.