Govt approves agreement with tax haven Seychelles to curb tax evasion and avoidance
The Central Government has approved the signing and ratification of the agreement between India and Republic of Seychelles for exchange of information with respect to taxes. As per the Government, this Agreement will stimulate the flow of exchange of information between India and Seychelles for tax purposes, which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance.
The decision was taken by Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi who had also visited this Island country in March this year. Negotiations for entering into an agreement for the exchange of information with respect to taxes were conducted at Seychelles from 8th to 9th June, 2015. Pursuant to this, India Seychelles have agreed on the text of the agreement.
Seychelles was featured in the European Union’s list of 30 international tax havens published in June this year. The list also included 29 other territories like Hong Kong and Brunei in Asia, Monaco, Andorra and Guernsey in Europe and a series of Caribbean havens including the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands.
Section 90 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 authorises the Government of India to enter into an agreement with a foreign country or specified territory for exchange of information for the prevention of evasion or avoidance of income-tax chargeable under the Income-tax Act, 1961.
India has signed similar bilateral agreements for Exchange of Tax Information with Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Macao, Monaco and San Marino.
Salient Features of the Agreement:
- It will enable the Competent Authorities of India and Seychelles to provide assistance through exchange of information that is foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of two countries concerning taxes covered by this agreement.
- Information received under the agreement shall be treated as confidential and may be disclosed only to persons or authorities (including courts or administrative bodies) concerned with assessment, collection, enforcement, prosecution or determination of appeals, in relation to taxes covered under the agreement. Information may be disclosed to any other person or entity or authority or jurisdiction with the prior written consent of the country sending the information.
- The agreement also provides for a Mutual Agreement Procedure for resolving any difference or for agreeing on procedures under the agreement.
- The agreement will enter into force on the date of notification of completion of procedures required by the respective laws of the two countries, for entry into force of the agreement.
- As such, the agreement does not have any financial implications. Only in the event of extraordinary costs exceeding US Dollar 500, the Government of India will bear the same, as per Article 9 of the agreement. India has similar provisions in other such tax information exchange agreements.
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