Income from Alternate Investment Fund to be taxed at 30%
Trustees of the fund will be taxed if investors are not named
The Finance Ministry has said that income of Alternative Investment Funds (AIF) will be taxed at the rate of 30 per cent. Such funds basically pool in money from domestic and overseas investors and invest on the basis of a pre-determined policy.
The Central Board of Direct taxes was requested to clarify whether the income of such funds would be taxable in the hands of investors (contributors to the fund) or the trustees of the fund (who will be representing investors and know as Representative Assessee).
The board said that, "In a situation where the trust deed either does not name the investors, or does not specify the beneficial interest, the entire income of the fund shall be liable to be taxed at the Maximum Marginal Rate of income tax in the hands of the trustees of such AIFs in their capacity as representative assessee."
It has also been clarified that once tax paid by the trustee, investors will not be required to pay a tax. At present, the maximum rate of income tax is 30 per cent (plus education cess at the rate of 3 per cent of tax). Experts feel that this circular gives a much needed clarity, however, there are still some areas of concern.
Ammet Patel, Tax Partner at Sudit K Parekh & Co (a leading Chartered Accountant Firm), said, "Investors will know at the time of putting the money what will be the rate of tax incidence and hence will make decision accordingly."
He said that circulars are binding on the Income Tax Department and not on the tax payers. It would have been better had the Finance Ministry clarified through amendment in Income Tax Act.
Jyoti Rai, India Head of Mauritius-based Abax Corporate Services, said that the CBDT clarification needs to be revisited, since it otherwise may have negative implication for funds industry in India.
"The industry, for long, has been relying upon the Alternative Investment Fund Ruling for determinate tax pass through status," she said.
The circular also mentioned that in cases where the beneficiaries of the fund are determined or mentioned in the trust deeds, "the tax on the whole of the income of the fund, consisting of or including profits and gains of business, would be levied on the trustees of such AIFs being representative assessee at the Maximum Marginal Rate."
The circular clarified, however, that the new norms will not operate in area falling in the jurisdiction of High Court, which has taken or takes contrary decision on the issue.
· CBDT was asked to clarify on the issue
· Once trustees are taxed, investors will not be taxed
· Tax experts welcome clarification, but some concerns remain