Income tax exemption for sovereign funds for investing in wider infra sector

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The income tax (I-T) department has notified tax exemption on interest, dividend and capital gain incomes of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and global pension funds arising from their investment in Indian infrastructure.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) through a notification dated July 6 has widened the scope of ‘infrastructure’ for the purpose of claiming income tax exemption under Section 10 (23FE) of the I-T Act introduced via the Finance Act 2020.

The said Section permits a complete tax exemption to certain exclusive category of non-resident investors on their income streams such as dividends, interest and capital gains. 

This notification shall come into force from April 1, 2021, and shall be applicable for the assessment year (AY) 2021-22 and subsequent AYs, the CBDT said. This will attract sovereign funds to a more diverse range of infrastructure companies into sectors like telecom, energy, logistics, hospitals, and cold chains.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had in Budget 2020 announced tax exemption for such infrastructure investments in India. “In order to incentivise the investment made by the sovereign wealth fund of foreign governments in the priority sectors, I propose to grant 100 per cent tax exemption to their interest, dividend and capital gains incomes in respect of investment made in infrastructure and other notified sectors before March 31, 2024, and with a minimum lock-in period of 3 years,” she had said.

The CBDT notification aligns the definition of the term “infrastructure facility” with the harmonised master list issued by the Department of Economic Affairs in 2018.  Such a wide-ranging list of qualifying investments for tax incentives would allow capital formation to flow into social infrastructure such as educational institutions, sport stadiums, tourism, operationalise long-pending investment creation of theme based parks including food parks, mult-modal logistics parks and textile parks.



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