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Taxation of Representative offices

Taxation of Representative offices

Representative office/Liaison Office is one of the three forms in which, foreign companies can set up their operations in India. It is set up primarily to explore and understand the business and investment climate in India. The role of liaison office is limited to collecting information about possible market opportunities and providing information about the overseas parent company and its products to prospective Indian customers.

Any foreign company intending to open a Liaison Office in India is required to obtain prior approval from the RBI, the apex foreign exchange management authority in India. Approval is usually granted for three years and can be renewed on expiry thereof. The companies desirous of opening a liaison office in India may make an application in form FNC-1 along with the documents mentioned therein to Foreign Investment Division, Foreign Exchange Department, Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, Mumbai. In addition to this, the foreign company is also required to obtain a Certificate of establishment of place of business in India from the Registrar of Companies (ROC). At the time of closure of the Liaison Office, the RBI grants permission to repatriate the balance in the Indian bank account to the parent company.

Activities of the Liaison office

  • Representing in India the parent Company / group Companies.

  • Promoting export/ import from/ to India.

  • Promoting technical / financial collaborations between the parent / group companies and companies in India.

  • Acting as a communication channel between the parent company overseas and Indian companies.

Restrictions on the activities of the liaison office
  • No commercial operation can be done by the liaison office (No invoicing).

  • The liaison office must maintain a QA22C account with the bank. This is a special account that only allows inflows from abroad.

  • The liaison office can neither borrow, nor lend money.

  • It must file regular returns to the RBI. Such returns must include Audited Annual accounts and an activity report for the year.

A Liaison Office is not permitted to undertake any commercial / trading / industrial activity, directly or indirectly, and cannot, therefore, earn any income in India. It is required to maintain itself out of inward remittances received from abroad through normal banking channels. Hence it does not constitute a taxable entity in India. Also, the liaison office is not subjected to taxation in India as there is no mechanism for the income tax department to examine and ascertain as to whether the activities under taken by it result in any taxable income in India. However, the Liaison Office would be required to withhold tax from certain payments and hence to comply with the requisite tax withholding requirements under the domestic tax law.


Other Categories

Taxation of Individuals
Who is liable to pay income tax
Sources of Income
Income from Salaries
Income from Capital Gains
Income from House property
Income from Profits & gains of business or profession
Income from other sources
Taxation of Partnerships
Customs Duties (Import Duty and Export Tax)
Wealth Tax
Taxation of Corporates
Taxation of Agents
Excise Duty
Permanent Account Number (PAN)
Taxation of other forms of business entities
Taxation of Trusts
Taxation of Small Scale Industries
Joint Venture Companies
Cooperative Societies
Taxation of Representative offices
Service Tax
Value Added Tax (VAT)


India has a well developed tax structure. The power to levy taxes and duties is distributed among the three
tiers of Government, in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Constitution. The main taxes/duties that
the Union Government is empowered to levy are:- Income Tax (except tax on agricultural income,
which the State Governments can levy), Customs duties, Central Excise and Sales Tax and Service Tax. The principal taxes levied by the State Governments are:- Sales Tax (tax on intra-State sale of goods), Stamp Duty (duty on transfer of property), State Excise (duty on manufacture of alcohol), Land Revenue (levy on land used for agricultural/non-agricultural purposes), Duty on Entertainment and Tax on Professions & Callings. The Local Bodies are empowered to levy tax on properties (buildings, etc.), Octroi (tax on entry of goods for use/consumption within areas of the Local Bodies), Tax on Markets and Tax/User Charges for utilities like water supply, drainage, etc.

In the wake of economic reforms, the tax system in India has under gone a radical change, in line with the
liberal policy. Some of the changes include:- rationalization of tax structure; progressive reduction in peak
rates of customs duty; reduction in corporate tax rate; customs duties to be aligned with ASEAN levels;
introduction of value added tax; widening of the tax base; tax laws have been simplified to ensure better compliance. Tax policy in India provides tax holidays in the form of concessions for various types of investments. These include incentives to priority sectors and to industries located in special area/ regions. Tax incentives are available also for those engaged in development of infrastructure.