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Decoding the India - US Transitional Approach on 2% Equalization Levy

Addressing tax issues arising in the digital economy has been a priority of the international community since past few years. In order to deliver a consensus-based solution and ensure that Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) pay a fair share of tax in the jurisdiction they operate, the Organization for Export Co-operation and Development (OECD) / G20, by way of a Statement/Deal had, on the 8th of October 2021, introduced a major reform in the international tax framework.  In all, 136 countries, including India and the USA, out of a total of 140 countries, have agreed to this Statement.

The Statement/Deal provides for an Inclusive Framework that requires countries to remove all digital services tax and other similar unilateral measures and provide for a Two-pillar solution, consisting of two components viz: Pillar One, which is about reallocation of an additional share of profit to the market jurisdictions and Pillar Two, consisting of minimum tax and subject to tax rules. For a detailed discussion on the OECD/G20 inclusive framework, kindly refer our article on OECD BEPS Framework: Recent Development.  

 

Post the issuance of the said Statement/Deal, on October 21, 2021, the United States of America (US), Austria, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom reached an agreement on a transitional approach to the existing Unilateral Measures, while implementing Pillar One. A similar transitional approach has been agreed by India and the US on the 24th of November and notified by way of a Press Release by the Government of India- Ministry of Finance, the same has been elaborated below: 

 

Press Release dated 24th November on India and USA Agreement on Equalization Levy 

 

As per the Press Release, India and the US have agreed that the same terms that apply under the joint statement released by the US with five European countries on 21 October 2021, shall apply between the US and India, during the interim period before Pillar One rules comes into effect.

 In light of the Press Release and 21 October joint statement, impact on India’s 2% EL could be as follows:  

 

  • India will not be required to withdraw the 2% EL until Pillar One takes effect.
  • India will allow a credit of the excess of 2% EL chargeable on non-resident (NR) e-commerce operator (NR EOP), belonging to a multinational enterprise (MNE), during the “interim period”, vis-a-vis the tax liability determined under Pillar One – Amount A, for the said interim period, once Pillar One rules are in effect. As per the Press Release, this interim period will begin from 1 April 2022, till the implementation of Pillar One or 31 March 2024, whichever is earlier.
  • The US will terminate its proposed trade actions against India regarding the 2% EL.
  • India and the US will remain in close contact to ensure that there is a common understanding of the respective commitments and endeavour to resolve any further differences of views on this matter through constructive dialogue.
  • The final terms of the India-US agreement are awaited and is expected to be issued by 1 February 2022.

 

FM Comments: 

While the fine print of this agreement between the India and US is still awaited, it would be interesting to see how the 6% EL on online advertisement revenues, are proposed to be dealt with, as apparently, the same does not seem to form a part of the deal. 

It also remains to be seen what kind of potential hiccups this deal would entail, should there be a delay in the implementation of Pillar One, beyond the time provided in the deal, and the potential impact of this on the business of MNEs. 

At the given point of time, the above seems to be merely a statement of intent by the two major economies, so as to streamline the long pending issues of digital taxation. One can only hope that the said deal is not a result of threat of trade actions by the US and would indeed be a win- win for both the countries. 

Image Credits: Photo by Antonio Quagliata from Pexels

Post the issuance of the said Statement/Deal, on October 21, 2021, the United States of America (US), Austria, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom reached an agreement on a transitional approach to the existing Unilateral Measures, while implementing Pillar One. A similar transitional approach has been agreed by India and the US on the 24th of November and notified by way of a Press Release by the Government of India- Ministry of Finance

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