IT Dept set to tax over 380 firms for M&A deals in FY'08

Although the scrutiny has been on for a couple of years now, the department must raise tax demands or else the cases will get barred by time this year under the provisions of the I-T Act, sources said.

The multi-million dollar deals involving overseas mergers, acquisitions and infusion of private equity into Indian companies pertain to fiscal 2007-2008 for which December 31 is the last day for scrutiny, assessment and raising of tax demand, a top source in the I-T department said.

While some deals among these 386 have already been dealt with, a number of deals struck during that period will be sent tax notices, sources said.

The IT Department, which has already slapped a Rs 11,000 crore tax notice on telecom operator Vodafone for its 2007 buy of Hutchison's assets in India, is expecting a "good" revenue mop up from the other companies under review.

Special units of the IT Department specialising in international taxation treaties and laws are coordinating in studying and scrutinising these deals, the sources said.

"The scrutiny also involves private equity placements or other acquisitions by foreign investors in Indian companies," they added.

Provisions of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) could also be invoked in some cases which involve overseas investments or funds, they said.

The government announced in the winter session of Parliament that it is also probing cross-border merger and acquisition cases for possible tax evasion.

"A few cases relating to cross-border merger and acquisition deals have been identified for further examination by the (IT) department. These deals are being examined for possible tax implications," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said.

Few deals under the Finance Ministry scanner include Sanofi Pasteur Holding's agreement with Merieux Alliance, Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault's acquisition of Shantha Biotechnics, the agreement of New Cingular Wireless Services Inc with AT&T Mauritius for acquiring Idea Cellular, the transfer of stake in GE Capital International Services/Genpact India and SKR BPO Services' deal with Barclays, Mauritius, for acquiring Intelnet Global Services.

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