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NRIs should plan their return to home
(as it has a bearing on the taxability of overseas income )

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: The grass is not really greener on the other side. And many Indians abroad are figuring it out the hard way. Faced with a gloomy economic and career prospects, some are packing their bags and heading back to test the job market.

Though finding a job would be easier in India, especially for those with good degrees and employment background, figuring out the tax liability - especially in the initial years - may be a daunting task. If you are returning to India for employment, there are some tax issues you have to consider before taking the final decision.

This is crucial because the taxability of overseas income (such as rental income from property outside India) for returning Indians largely depends on their residential status in India. Planning the timing of one's return is very important.

Residency rules play an important role in determining the income that is taxable in India. Indian residency is attained in either of the following situations: 1) The individual is in India in that financial year for 182 or more days; or 2) The individual is in India in that financial year for 60 or more days and 365 days or more in the four financial years prior to that financial year.

If either of the above conditions are not satisfied, the individual would be treated as a non-resident. "Even if one satisfies either of the above two conditions, and, therefore, qualifies as a resident, Indian tax laws provide a relief for a category of individuals who are 'not ordinarily resident' (NOR).

One can become a NOR either if his/her stay in India in the seven financial years immediately preceding that financial year is less than 729 days or if he/she was a non-resident for nine of the 10 financial years immediately preceding that financial year. A resident other than a NOR is generally referred to as ordinary resident," says Vineet Agarwal, director - tax and regulatory services, KPMG.

"As a returning Indian, try to sell your overseas property while you are still a 'not ordinarily resident' (NOR) or 'non-resident' (NR). As a NOR or NR, if you sell any overseas assets and receive the sale proceeds outside India, you do not have to pay any taxes in India. If you need to buy a house in India out of the sale proceeds, you can first receive the sale proceeds in a foreign bank account and thereafter remit part or whole of the proceeds back to India without creating any Indian tax liability," says Amitabh Singh, tax partner, Ernst & Young.

Keep in mind that the sale of property at a profit will probably create tax liability in the country where the property is situated. In some countries, it creates sales tax and other liabilities as well.

"If you have become an Indian resident, selling the house liable for taxes both in the country where the property is situated as well as in India. The country where the property is situated will generally have the primary taxing rights ie, the right to collect the tax while India will have the obligation to provide a credit for taxes paid in the foreign country and collect only the balance tax, if any. The precise tax treatment will be guided by the domestic tax laws of India and the foreign country as well as the tax treaty between the two countries, if there is one," says Singh.

( Courtesy: )

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