GAAR to come into effect from April 1, 2016

New Delhi: The controversial GAAR provision in India, which seeks to check tax avoidance by investors routing their funds through tax havens, will come into effect from April 1, 2016, a government notification said.
 
The provision of General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) will apply to entities availing tax benefit of at least Rs 3 crore, according to the notification dated September 23.
 
It will apply to foreign institutional investors (FIIs) that have claimed benefits under any Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).
 
Investments made by a non-resident by way of offshore derivative instruments or P-Notes through FIIs, will not be covered by the GAAR provisions.
 
Investments made before August 30, 2010, will not be scrutinised under GAAR, it said, adding the provisions will apply to assessees that obtain tax benefits on or after April 1, 2015.
 
"Stock markets will have a lot to cheer as FIIs which do not seek to avail of treaty benefits will not be subjected to GAAR. Investment in Participatory Notes will not be subject to GAAR," Deloitte Haskins & Sells Partner N C Hegde said.
 
The GAAR provisions were introduced in the 2012-13 Budget by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to check tax avoidance and were to have come into effect from April 1, 2014. The proposal generated controversy, with investors getting apprehensive about harassment by tax authorities.
 
To soothe the nerves of jittery investors, Finance Minister P Chidambaram in January announced the postponement of the implementation of Chapter X-A of the I-T Act (dealing with GAAR) by two years to April 1, 2016.