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 between India and Mauritius was signed by both countries on 10th May, 2016. After completion of internal procedures by both countries, the Protocol entered into force in India on 19th July, 2016 and has been notified in the Official Gazette on 11th August, 2016.
The Protocol provides for source-based taxation of 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. Simultaneously, investments made before 1st April, 2017 have been grandfathered and will not be subject to capital gains taxation in India. Where such capital gains arise 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. Taxation in India at full domestic tax rate will take place from financial year 2019-20 onwards.
The benefit of 50% reduction in tax rate during the transition period shall be subject to the Limitation of Benefits Article, whereby a resident of Mauritius (including a shell / conduit company) will not be entitled to benefit 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.
The Protocol further provides for source-based taxation of interest income of banks, whereby 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 as per existing provisions in the Convention.
The Protocol also provides for updating of the Exchange of Information Article as per the international standard, provision for assistance in collection of taxes, source-based taxation of other income, amongst other changes.
The Protocol will tackle treaty abuse and round tripping of funds attributed to the India-Mauritius treaty, curb revenue loss, prevent double non-taxation, streamline the flow of investment and stimulate the flow of exchange of information between the two Contracting Parties. It will improve transparency in tax matters and will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance.