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On May 27, 2016, India's Central Board of Direct Taxes released rules on the newly introduced equalization levy on specified digital services.
In a bid to address the tax challenges posed by the digital economy, the 2016 Finance Act introduced a new equalization levy at the rate of six percent of the gross payment made for "specified digital services" and facilities. It applies to payments exceeding INR100,000 made by a person resident in India or an entity with a permanent establishment in India for transactions from a non-resident person to a non-resident enterprise.
The equalization levy only applies to business-to-business transactions. "Specified service" for the purpose of the rules means online advertisement, any provision for digital advertising space, or any other facility or service for the purpose of online advertisement and includes any other service as may be notified by the Central Government.
According to the Equalisation Levy Rules 2016, taxpayers falling under the rules must pay the equalization levy to the central Government through the Reserve Bank of India or in any branch of the State Bank of India, or any authorized bank, accompanied by an equalization levy "challan."
The draft rules require taxpayers to submit a statement of "specified services" liable to equalization levy during any financial year on or before June 30 in the next financial year. The rules, which are to be effective from June 1, 2016, also set out the procedure for filing appeals to the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) and to the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.
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