There was a great need and importance to stop malicious practices of tax evasion. To combat the same, government of various countries have come forward to act accordingly and has formed and amended their treaties and agreements with other countries in order to protect the economy and revenue interest of their country.
In the year 2015 OECD (Organization for economic co-operation and development) has published the report with introduction of BEPS (Base erosion and profit shifting). These are commonly known as Action plans which were issued with an intention to curb the tax evasion practices, improving transparency and tax certainty.
Till date 15 Action plan has been introduced so far,
As the name i.e. BEPS itself defines that refers to tax planning strategies that exploits gaps and mismatches in tax rules to make profits disappear for tax purposes or to shift profits to locations where there is little or no real activity but the taxes are low which results in little or no tax, in other words tax evasion through proper tax planning by using the tax haven countries.
Now coming on to main topic i.e. how tax havens have been used as a device for tax evasion,
Most of the companies majorly MNCs set up their subsidiary companies in the tax haven countries so that they can shift out their profits in such countries so as to avoid paying tax or pay tax at lower rates as compared to other countries where tax rates are high. They carry maximum of their sales transaction through tax havens and try to incur huge expenditure in the country where tax rates are high so that they can lower their profits and can avoid to pay tax.
But in today’s scenario tax evasion practice has created challenges for the developing nations for example India.
Tax evaders setup their companies in tax haven countries like Singapore, Switzerland etc.
Let us better understand the mechanism by way of example;
Suppose there were two associated Companies namely Laxmi Narayan and sons Ltd (Holding co. registered in India) and the other one is Pushp Kumar Sahu and associates(Subsidiary Company) incorporated in Singapore. Both are associated enterprises within the meaning of section 92A of Income Tax Act, 1961.
Holding company i.e. Laxmi Narayan and sons ltd shifts it major revenue or in other words place it’s international sale transactions through it’s subsidiary company so that profit can be shifted to other company which results in lower tax liability, as tax rates are higher in India as compared to Singapore.
Moreover, both the companies have planned to present maximum profits in Singapore and less profits in India by applying following tax planning like,
1) Pushp Kumar Sahu and associates will provide loan to Laxmi Narayan and sons ltd at high rates so that the said holding co. will have more debit expenses which will ultimately result in decrease in profits and on the other hand subsidiary co. will enjoy more profits in the form of earned interest from it’s holding co. thus resulting in low tax or zero tax.
This type of practice has been eradicated and countered by the government of India by introducing the section 94B in the Income tax Act, 1961 in lines of the Action plan 6 of BEPS Reportgiven by OECD.