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All About Double Tax Avoidance Agreement 

Let’s face it. 

No matter how much money your business makes, there’s always a loophole you are looking for, to save up on taxes. 

So it is no wonder that you are looking at the double tax avoidance agreement scheme and the benefits associated with it. 

You might be looking for double tax avoidance agreement in case you are a business entity involved in outward remittances from India. 

Or maybe you just want to capitalize on an already existing global treaty.

How exactly does the Double taxation avoidance agreement work? How can you guarantee that it works to your advantage?

Read on...

What is Double Tax Avoidance Agreement?

Double taxation arises when an individual or a business faces taxation on an identical income or transaction in several locations, including different countries or states. This scenario results from differences in tax regulations among these various places.

There are two primary forms of double taxation:

  1. Juridical Double Taxation on remittances

This type occurs when two or more locations want to tax the same individual or business for the same income or transaction. The differences in tax rules between these places contribute to this situation.

  1. Economic Double Taxation:

Economic double taxation happens when the same income is taxed both at the business level and the individual level. For instance, a company pays taxes on its profits, and when it distributes those profits to the owners, they face taxation again.

To tackle the issues associated with double taxation, nations create arrangements commonly referred to as Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) or tax treaties. These agreements delineate the primary jurisdiction with the right to tax certain types of income and provide mechanisms to avoid being subjected to taxation twice. Strategies encompass tax credits, exemptions, and deductions.

How does the double tax avoidance agreement work? 

The system of double taxation avoidance agreement operates through international agreements, commonly known as Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) or tax treaties. These agreements have the main purpose of establishing how taxing rights are shared among the participating countries, to prevent the imposition of taxes on the same income or financial transactions in multiple jurisdictions.

Here is a summary of how this mechanism generally functions:

  1. Assignment of Taxing Rights:

DTAAs distinctly outline the country that holds the principal jurisdiction to tax particular categories of income. For instance, income earned through employment is generally subject to taxation in the country where the individual is employed.

  1. Methods to Prevent Double Taxation:

DTAAs utilize various methods to prevent double taxation, including tax credits, exemptions, and deductions. These measures ensure that if a taxpayer faces taxation in multiple countries, there are provisions in place to ease the resulting financial burden.

  1. Tax Credits:

Tax credits allow taxpayers to offset taxes paid in one country against their tax liability in another. For instance, if a business pays taxes on its profits in Country A and distributes dividends, the country of residence (Country B) may offer a tax credit for the taxes already paid in Country A.


Exemptions exclude specific types of income from taxation in one of the involved countries. As an example, a DTAA might exempt income derived from dividends or royalties from taxation in the source country.

  1. Deductions:

Deductions involve subtracting certain expenses or losses from taxable income, reducing the overall tax liability. DTAAs may include provisions for deductions to mitigate the impact of double taxation.

  1. Residence Principle:

Many DTAAs follow the residence principle, where the country of residence primarily holds the right to tax the individual or entity. While the source country may still impose taxes on certain types of income, it is often at a reduced rate.

DTAA Rates

DTAA rates, which pertain to the rates specified in Double Tax Avoidance Agreements, play a vital role in determining the maximum tax a country can impose on specific types of income for residents of another nation. 

Covering various income categories such as dividends, interest, royalties, and capital gains, DTAA rates have the primary goal of ensuring transparency and equity in taxation for entities operating internationally.

DTAA rates for distinct income types include:


DTAA rates might detail a reduced withholding tax rate on dividends paid to residents of another country. For example, an agreement could specify that the source country can impose a maximum withholding tax, like 10%, on dividends.


Similar to dividends, DTAA rates commonly establish the highest withholding tax on interest income, often lower than the standard domestic rate. For instance, an agreement might restrict the withholding tax on interest to 15%.


DTAA rates may stipulate the highest withholding tax on royalty payments, typically set lower than the domestic withholding tax rate. For example, an agreement might cap the withholding tax on royalties at 12%.

Capital Gains:

DTAA rates may address the taxation of capital gains, particularly those arising from the sale of movable property such as shares. An agreement might introduce a reduced rate or grant an exemption from capital gains tax in the source country.

Some countries where the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement applies to India

Countries with Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) with India include:

  • Singapore: Encourages Indian businesses to invest abroad, preventing double tax on profits in Singapore.
  • UAE: Benefits Indian professionals working in the UAE by preventing double tax on their income.
  • UK: Allows Indian companies with operations in the UK to credit taxes paid in the UK against Indian tax liability.
  • Mauritius: Example: Includes anti-abuse provisions in the DTAA, ensuring legitimate use and preventing misuse for tax evasion.

What are the benefits of DTAA?

  1. Objective of Double Tax Avoidance Agreement (DTAA):
  • India's DTAA with Singapore, encouraging Indian businesses to invest abroad. The agreement ensures that profits earned by Indian companies in Singapore are not subject to double taxation, promoting Singapore as an appealing investment destination for Indian businesses.
  1. Advantages for Taxpayers:
  • An Indian professional working in the UAE benefits from the India-UAE DTAA. The agreement prevents the individual from being taxed on the same income in both countries, making it advantageous for Indian expatriates working in the UAE.
  1. Tax Exemptions and Terms:
  • The India-USA DTAA exempts certain types of income, such as royalties and fees for technical services. If an Indian company receives royalties from the USA, the DTAA ensures that the income is exempt from taxation in the USA, promoting outward remittances from India.
  1. Tax Credit Mechanism:
  • An Indian IT company with operations in the UK benefits from the India-UK DTAA. Taxes paid in the UK are credited against the Indian tax liability on the same income, facilitating outward remittances without facing double taxation challenges.
  1. Necessity for Signing DTAA:
  • Indian pharmaceutical companies signing DTAAs with European countries to expand operations. These agreements help companies in making outward remittances for acquisitions, investments, or collaborations without the burden of double taxation.
  1. Legal Certainty and Foreign Investment:
  • Indian businesses investing in African nations due to the DTAA network. The agreements provide legal certainty in business tax matters, encouraging outward remittances from India to African countries for business expansions.
  1. Anti-abusive Clauses:
  • The India-Mauritius DTAA includes anti-abuse provisions to prevent misuse of the agreement for tax evasion purposes. This ensures that outward remittances from India to Mauritius are made for legitimate business reasons rather than for tax avoidance.

Disadvantages of double tax avoidance agreement

  • Taxation of Cross-Border Profits: Without effective double taxation avoidance agreements, a company may face challenges in reconciling tax liabilities in each jurisdiction. This can result in higher overall tax burdens on profits, impacting the amount available for remittances to the headquarters or other subsidiaries.
  • Dividend Distributions and Withholding Taxes: A company headquartered in Country A has subsidiaries in Country B and Country C. When the subsidiaries generate profits and distribute dividends to the parent company in Country A, withholding taxes may apply. Without proper DTA agreements, the parent company might face higher withholding tax rates, reducing the remittable amount of dividends.
  • Impact of Permanent Establishment Rules: When a company dispatches employees to engage in projects across various countries, the establishment of a permanent establishment (PE) in a specific country may grant that country the authority to tax profits associated with the PE. In the absence of suitable Double Taxation Avoidance (DTA) agreements, the company could encounter dual taxation on the same income, impacting the repatriation of profits to its headquarters.
  • Taxation of Royalties and Licensing Fees: A company licenses its intellectual property to subsidiaries in various countries, earning royalties and licensing fees. Without clear provisions in DTA agreements, the income from these intellectual property rights may be subject to taxation in both the source country and the company's home country, reducing the funds available for remittance.
  • Challenges in Claiming Tax Credits: A business operating globally may face challenges in claiming foreign tax credits if the tax paid in one jurisdiction is not recognized or is only partially recognized in another jurisdiction. This can result in the business being taxed twice on the same income, impacting the amount available for remittances.
  • Uncertainty in Cross-Border Transactions: Businesses engaging in cross-border transactions may experience uncertainty due to the lack of clarity in DTA agreements. This uncertainty can lead to delays in decision-making, and businesses may be reluctant to remit funds until the tax implications are fully understood and resolved.

Transfer Pricing Controversies: 

DTA agreements can be complex, and complying with the provisions of these agreements may require extensive legal and accounting expertise.

  • Google and Starbucks faced criticism for allegedly using transfer pricing strategies to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions, taking advantage of loopholes in DTA agreements. News articles covered these controversies, highlighting the challenges in preventing tax avoidance through such practices.

Disputes Over Permanent Establishment:

  • Ongoing debates and disputes have emerged regarding the taxation of digital businesses and the concept of "permanent establishment." News pieces have covered how countries struggle to adapt existing DTA agreements to address the challenges posed by the digital economy, leading to disagreements between jurisdictions.

Tax Avoidance in Multinational Corporations: 

  • Apple faced scrutiny for its tax arrangements in Ireland, where it was accused of benefiting from a favorable DTA agreement. News articles reported on the controversy, highlighting concerns about multinational corporations exploiting DTA provisions to minimize their global tax liabilities.

Impact of Brexit on DTA Agreements:

  • The news covered the implications of Brexit on DTA agreements between the UK and EU member states. Changes in the relationship between the UK and the EU raised concerns about potential disruptions and uncertainties in the taxation of cross-border activities.

Tax Avoidance through Treaty Shopping:

  • News articles have reported on cases of "treaty shopping," where companies exploit DTA agreements by routing investments through jurisdictions with favorable tax treaties. Canada, among other countries, has faced challenges in addressing treaty shopping and preventing tax avoidance through such practices.

Final Word 

By now, you might know that double taxation avoidance agreement is about helping global businesses, involved in outward remittances, avoid paying taxes in two different countries.

But, the devil lies in the details.

The rules for avoiding double taxation are different from one country to another. To figure out the TDS rate, it's important to understand what the letters DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) mean and carefully look at the terms in agreements between the countries involved. 

FAQs on Double Tax Avoidance Agreement

What is a tax avoidance agreement?

A tax avoidance agreement, commonly referred to as a tax treaty, is a pact between two countries aimed at preventing individuals or businesses from facing double taxation on the same income in both nations. It establishes guidelines for how each country will tax different types of income and provides mechanisms for resolving disputes regarding overlapping tax claims. These agreements foster international trade and investment, combat tax evasion, and offer clarity regarding tax obligations for taxpayers in each country.

What are the rules of DTAA?

The rules governing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) outline how countries tax various types of income to prevent double taxation. These rules cover tax residency determination, tax rate setting, tax credit provisions, non-discrimination principles, information exchange mechanisms, and dispute resolution procedures. The objective of DTAA is to promote international trade, combat tax evasion, and offer clarity to taxpayers regarding their tax obligations.

What is the TDS rate for DTAA?

The Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) rate for Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) varies based on the specific agreement between countries. DTAA may offer lower TDS rates compared to standard domestic tax laws to prevent over-taxation on certain types of income, like interest, dividends, royalties, or capital gains, earned by non-residents. The exact TDS rate under DTAA depends on the provisions outlined in the agreement between the countries involved. It's advisable for taxpayers to refer to the relevant DTAA and seek guidance from tax authorities or experts to determine the applicable TDS rate for their circumstances.

Who can claim DTAA?

In business transactions, double tax avoidance agreement benefits are accessible to entities or individuals residing in countries that have established a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with another nation. This encompasses companies, non-resident individuals, foreign investors, and service providers engaged in international dealings. DTAA serves to alleviate the tax liabilities on cross-border income, but the specifics of eligibility and benefits depend on the terms outlined in the agreement between the respective countries, ensuring compliance and fairness in tax matters across borders.

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