How NRI’s can claim tax benefit under DTAA?

In an era characterized by unprecedented global connectivity and cross-border financial activities, individuals and businesses often find themselves grappling with the intricate challenges of international taxation. Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), in particular, navigate a complex web of tax regulations as they earn income in multiple countries. One significant concern that arises from this global financial landscape is the specter of double taxation – a scenario where an individual is taxed on the same income by more than one country. To address this issue and foster a conducive environment for cross-border investments, the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) comes into play as a pivotal legal instrument.

The essence of DTAA lies in its bilateral treaties, signed between two nations, with the primary objective of preventing the occurrence of double taxation on the same income. Far from providing an outright exemption from taxes, DTAA serves to ensure that NRIs are not burdened with excessively high tax liabilities in both their country of residence and the source country of income. These agreements span a broad spectrum of income, including employment income, business profits, dividends, interest, royalties, and capital gains, laying down guidelines on which country holds the primary right to impose taxes on specific types of income.

NRI’s can claim tax benefit under DTAA

This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the intricacies of claiming tax benefits under DTAA for NRIs. From understanding the fundamental principles and rates to navigating the application process and strategically utilizing DTAA provisions, this article will equip NRIs with the knowledge needed to optimize their tax liabilities across borders. As we delve into specific examples, recent developments, and practical considerations, the objective is to empower NRIs with the insights required to make informed financial decisions in an increasingly interconnected world.

Understanding the Basics of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)

The Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) serves as a bilateral treaty signed between two nations, primarily designed to eliminate the occurrence of double taxation on the same income. Its purpose extends beyond providing outright tax exemptions for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). Instead, the goal is to make a country an attractive destination for investments and alleviate the tax burden on NRIs. While DTAA doesn’t absolve NRIs from taxes, it ensures they do not face higher taxes in both their country of residence and the country where the income originates. Additionally, DTAA functions as a crucial tool to deter tax evasion.

Key aspects of DTAA include its coverage of a wide spectrum of income categories, encompassing employment income, business profits, dividends, interest, royalties, and capital gains. The guidelines embedded within DTAA meticulously outline which country possesses the authority to impose taxes on specific types of income. Generally, the nation where the income is generated retains the primary right to levy taxes. Simultaneously, the country of residency may also impose taxes, albeit typically at a lower rate. This framework establishes a harmonized approach to taxation, preventing the imposition of excessive tax burdens on NRIs across multiple jurisdictions.

  • DTAA is a bilateral treaty aimed at preventing double taxation on the same income.
  • Its objective is to make a country attractive for investments and alleviate the tax burden on NRIs.
  • NRIs are not exempt from taxes under DTAA but are protected from higher taxes in both their country of residence and the source country of income.
  • DTAA acts as a deterrent to tax evasion.
  • The coverage of DTAA extends to various income categories, including employment income, business profits, dividends, interest, royalties, and capital gains.
  • Guidelines within DTAA specify the authority of each country to impose taxes on specific types of income.
  • The country where income is generated usually retains the primary right to levy taxes, while the country of residency may impose taxes at a lower rate.

DTAA Rates: A Framework for Tax Deduction

  • Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAA), which India negotiates and signs with various countries, set precise rates for tax deduction on income paid to residents of those nations.
  • In practical terms, when Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) generate income in India, the Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) is calculated based on the rates specified in the DTAA with the particular country involved.
  • The essence of this arrangement is to establish a clear framework for determining the tax obligations of NRIs earning income in India, ensuring consistency and predictability in the taxation process.
  • By defining these rates through DTAA, both India and the partner country aim to create a transparent and fair system that prevents double taxation and provides a structured approach to tax deduction for residents of the respective nations involved.
  • This mechanism not only facilitates a smoother taxation process for NRIs but also promotes international cooperation by standardizing the taxation treatment of cross-border income, fostering a conducive environment for global financial transactions.

Determining DTAA Applicability: A Step-by-Step Guide

To determine the applicability of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) in a specific scenario, individuals should adhere to a systematic approach:

Step 1: Is DTAA Applicable?

  • DTAA comes into play when the transaction is subject to taxation in both India and another country.
  • At least one party involved in the transaction must be a non-resident (NR) or a foreign company (FC).

Step 2: Which DTAA is Applicable?

  • Identify the residential status of the non-resident party involved in the transaction.
  • The applicable DTAA is determined by the specific agreement between India and the country of residence of the non-resident party.
  • Different countries have distinct DTAA agreements with India.

By systematically following these steps, individuals can navigate the initial stages of assessing the applicability of DTAA and subsequently identifying the relevant agreement governing their international financial transactions.

Applying DTAA: A Strategic Approach

Once the determination of DTAA applicability is confirmed, a systematic approach to optimize tax liability unfolds through the following steps:

Tax Liability as per Income Tax Act

  • Identify the specific type or category of income to which DTAA is applicable.
  • Assess the tax liability associated with this income under the provisions outlined in the Income Tax Act.

Tax Liability under DTAA

  • Examine whether the earned income falls under the specific articles defined in the DTAA.
  • If applicable, ascertain that the taxation aligns with the regulations stipulated in those specific articles.

Finalizing the Tax Liability

  • Invoke section 90(2) to determine the most advantageous taxation method between the Income Tax Act and DTAA – a decision often referred to as Treaty Override.
  • Consider the presence of a Permanent Establishment (PE) in India for Non-Residents (NR) or Foreign
  • Companies (FC), as this could invoke general articles for taxation.

This meticulous process ensures a thorough evaluation of the tax implications associated with cross-border income, enabling taxpayers to make well-informed decisions. By strategically navigating the complexities of both the Income Tax Act and DTAA provisions, individuals can optimize their tax liabilities and prevent the adverse impact of double taxation. The clarity offered by this methodical approach becomes paramount for individuals engaged in international financial activities, ensuring compliance with tax regulations and the efficient utilization of available benefits.

Claiming DTAA Benefits: Three Strategic Methods

NRIs have three primary avenues through which they can avail DTAA benefits:

  • Deduction: Individuals can assert their right to deduct taxes paid to the foreign government. This deduction is applicable in their country of residence, providing a means to alleviate the tax burden.
  • Exemption: NRIs can seek tax relief in either of the two countries involved. This method allows them to choose the jurisdiction that offers more favorable tax treatment, thereby optimizing their overall tax liability.
  • Tax Credit: Another approach is to claim tax relief directly in the country of residence. By utilizing this method, NRIs can offset the taxes paid abroad against their domestic tax liability, ensuring a more balanced and equitable taxation framework.

Example of DTAA: Unraveling the Complexity

Let’s delve into a practical example to better understand the implications of DTAA. Consider Neha, an investor who actively participates in the US stock market, earning dividends on her investments each year. Notably, the US imposes a withholding tax of 25% on these dividends. As per the India-US DTAA, any dividend income accrued in the US is subject to a 25% tax rate. Furthermore, DTAA stipulates that this income may also be subject to taxation in India, contingent upon the recipient’s residential status.

Example Calculation Table

  • Dividend: Rs 20,00,000
  • Withholding Tax (25%): Rs 5,00,000
  • Tax in India: Rs 3,00,000
  • Foreign Tax Credit (C): Rs 3,00,000 (Lower of Withholding Tax or Tax in India)
  • Tax Payable in India: Rs 0 (Tax in India minus Foreign Tax Credit)

In this context, it is crucial to emphasize that while the entire gross amount of the dividend (Rs 20 lakh) is reported in the Income Tax Return (ITR), Neha can claim a foreign tax credit for the taxes deducted in the US. This strategic approach ensures that Neha is not doubly taxed on the same income, aligning with the core principles of DTAA.

Basic Principles of DTAA: Navigating Legal Terrain

In the intricate landscape of international taxation, Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) often find themselves navigating the complexities of legal disputes and contradictions that may arise in accordance with the agreement to avoid double taxation (DTAA). To successfully traverse these challenges, NRIs should adhere to a set of guiding principles that dictate their actions in specific scenarios.

If the Treaty Does Not Address a Dispute

  • In instances where the DTAA remains silent on a particular dispute, NRIs should turn to the provisions laid out in the Income Tax law. This provides a framework for resolving the issue and ensures that the taxpayer receives guidance within the confines of local legislation.

If a Treaty Includes Certain Provisions

  • When the treaty includes specific provisions, but the local law neglects to address the dispute resolution mechanism, NRIs should refer directly to the treaty. This approach ensures clarity on how to navigate the situation in question based on the agreed-upon terms between the two nations.

If the Treaty and Law Have the Same Provision

  • In cases where both the treaty and the local income tax law contain identical provisions, NRIs should exercise discretion. The strategic decision-making process involves selecting the approach that is most advantageous to the taxpayer. By opting for the more favorable treatment, NRIs can optimize their tax position and minimize potential financial liabilities.

This nuanced understanding of the principles governing DTAA empowers NRIs to make informed choices when faced with legal intricacies. By aligning actions with the most beneficial provisions, NRIs can strategically navigate the complexities of international taxation, ensuring a more favorable outcome in the resolution of disputes and contradictions.

Recent Developments: Section 89A Introduced in Budget 2021

The Finance Act of 2021 ushered in a transformative change through the introduction of Section 89A, strategically designed to mitigate challenges faced by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) grappling with double taxation on funds accumulated in foreign retirement accounts. Tailored for a specific demographic, this provision primarily addresses the concerns of “specified persons.” These individuals must meet specific criteria, being residents of India, opening an account in a country notified for this purpose while being a non-resident of India, and subsequently becoming residents of the particular country.

This legislation defines a “notified account” as an account established by a specified person in the country specified for retirement benefits. Noteworthy is the stipulation that income derived from such an account is not subject to taxation on an accrual basis but becomes taxable in the specified country upon receipt. Section 89A outlines a clear framework, specifying the manner and timing of the taxation process for income from these foreign retirement accounts. Essentially, this provision aligns with the evolving landscape of international taxation, providing a nuanced solution for NRIs navigating the complexities of cross-border financial planning.

  • Section 89A, introduced in the Finance Act of 2021, addresses double taxation concerns for NRIs with funds in foreign retirement accounts.
  • The provision applies specifically to “specified persons,” requiring them to be residents of India, open an account in a notified country while being a non-resident of India, and subsequently become residents of that specific country.
  • A “notified account” refers to an account established by a specified person in the notified country for retirement benefits.
  • Income from such accounts is not taxable on an accrual basis but becomes taxable in the specified country upon receipt.
  • Section 89A dictates the prescribed manner and timing of taxation for income from these foreign retirement accounts, offering clarity in an ever-evolving international tax landscape.

India’s DTAA Network: Key Countries and TDS Rates

India has established Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) with key nations hosting Indian residents, offering transparency on Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) rates. Notable countries covered by these agreements encompass:

  • United States of America: TDS rate of 15%
  • United Kingdom: TDS rate of 15%
  • Canada: TDS rate of 15%
  • Australia: TDS rate of 15%
  • Germany: TDS rate of 10%
  • South Africa: TDS rate of 10%
  • New Zealand: TDS rate of 10%
  • Singapore: TDS rate of 15%
  • Mauritius: TDS rate varying from 7.5% to 10%
  • Malaysia: TDS rate of 10%
  • UAE: TDS rate of 12.5%
  • Qatar: TDS rate of 10%
  • Oman: TDS rate of 10%
  • Thailand: TDS rate of 25%
  • Sri Lanka: TDS rate of 10%
  • Russia: TDS rate of 10%
  • Kenya: TDS rate of 10%

These agreements set specific TDS rates for income paid to residents of the respective countries, providing a clear framework for tax deductions and facilitating smoother cross-border financial transactions for NRIs.

Exclusions Under DTAA: Protecting NRIs from Double Taxation

Certain categories of income enjoy exemption from double taxation under the provisions of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA). Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) find relief from paying taxes twice on the following sources of income:

  • Services Provided in India: Income generated from services rendered within the geographical boundaries of India is exempt from the risk of double taxation.
  • Salary Received in India: NRIs need not worry about facing dual taxation on the salary earned within India.
  • House Property Located in India: Income derived from a property situated in India is safeguarded from the prospect of being taxed twice.
  • Capital Gains on Transfer of Assets in India: NRIs are exempt from dual taxation on the gains arising from the transfer of assets located in India.
  • Fixed Deposits in India: Interest income generated from fixed deposits in Indian financial institutions is protected from double taxation.
  • Savings Bank Account in India: Income from savings bank accounts held in India is not subject to taxation in both the country of residence and India.

Should the income from these specified sources be taxable in the NRI’s country of residence, they can strategically leverage the benefits provided by DTAA to prevent the occurrence of double taxation. This strategic approach ensures that NRIs can optimize their tax liabilities and avoid the burden of paying taxes on the same income in multiple jurisdictions.

Also read:

The Power of Financial Responsibility: 5 Benefits of Filing Income Tax Returns

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What Are The Differences Between Revised, Belated And Updated Income Tax Returns?


What is DTAA, and how does it benefit NRIs?

DTAA, or Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, is a bilateral treaty signed between two countries to prevent individuals or businesses from being taxed on the same income in both jurisdictions. For NRIs, DTAA serves to avoid the burden of double taxation, ensuring they do not pay taxes twice on the same income earned in multiple countries.

Which types of income are exempt from double taxation under DTAA for NRIs?

Certain types of income are exempt from double taxation for NRIs. These include income from services provided in India, salary received in India, house property located in India, capital gains on the transfer of assets in India, fixed deposits in India, and savings bank accounts in India.

How does DTAA impact the taxation of dividends from foreign investments?

DTAA can influence the taxation of dividends from foreign investments. For instance, if an NRI invests in US stocks and receives dividends, the tax rate may be determined by the India-US DTAA. NRIs can then claim a foreign tax credit for taxes deducted in the foreign country.

What are the steps to determine if DTAA is applicable in a specific case?

To determine DTAA applicability, follow these steps: (1) Check if the transaction is taxable in both India and another country, involving a non-resident party. (2) Identify the residential status of the non-resident party, and the DTAA between India and that country will be applicable.

Can NRIs claim tax benefits under DTAA through multiple methods?

Yes, NRIs can claim tax benefits under DTAA through various methods, including deduction, exemption, and tax credit. Depending on the specific circumstances, NRIs can strategically choose the method that is most advantageous for optimizing their tax liabilities.


In conclusion, the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) stands as a formidable ally for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) navigating the complexities of international taxation. As our globalized world continues to witness increased cross-border financial activities, understanding and strategically utilizing the principles of DTAA becomes paramount for NRIs seeking to optimize their tax liabilities. This comprehensive guide has unraveled the intricacies of DTAA, covering its fundamental principles, rates, application process, and strategic claiming methods. By exploring practical examples, recent developments, and essential considerations, NRIs are empowered to make informed financial decisions, ensuring they do not bear the burden of double taxation on their hard-earned income.

As we witness ongoing developments and evolving provisions in international taxation, staying abreast of these changes remains crucial for NRIs. DTAA not only serves as a shield against double taxation but also fosters a conducive environment for global investments. In the ever-expanding landscape of cross-border financial transactions, NRIs armed with the knowledge gleaned from this guide are better equipped to navigate the legal intricacies, claim rightful benefits, and make sound financial choices in an interconnected world.

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