Friday, September 9, 2011

Easier PAN norms for FIIs, foreign nationals

Breaking News:
NEW DELHI: In a move which could improve the fund flow and provide some stability to the choppy Indian bourses, the finance ministry has relaxed norms for foreign nationals and foreign institutional investors to obtain Permanent Account Numbers (PAN) that could also double up as KYC (know your customer) compliance for any investment they make in Indian stocks.

Till now, FIIs or foreign nationals had to obtain a PAN and separately meet KYC requirements prescribed by the market regulator before investing in stocks. The tax obligation on any transaction is twice the due amount if they fail to mention PAN.

In the revised rules that come into effect from October 1, a foreign national will have to only produce either h/his citizenship number or taxpayer identification number to obtain a PAN. The government is making amendments in Rule 114 and Form 49A of the Income Tax Rules and has proposed to introduce a new Form 49AA. While Form 49A will be used for Indian citizens, the other is for foreign nationals and FIIs.

Earlier rules stipulated that citizenship or taxpayer identification number would not be accepted as proof of identity in case of foreign nationals seeking PAN card. The applicant is required to take prescribed documents to an officer of Indian Embassy or High Commission where he is a resident to get them attested.

The revised guidelines ensure that a foreign national or an FII need not make rounds of Indian Embassies or High Commissions anymore. They can get copies of their documents attested by recognized authorities in their respective countries. Several countries and trade and industry organizations had represented the finance ministry seeking changes in the rules, in particular documents to be accepted as proof of identity and address and their attestation.

The department of economic affairs and the central board of direct taxes (CBDT) also worked on harmonizing the requirements of PAN and meeting KYC obligation. "Since most of the basic information for both are common, it was decided to harmonize them into one so that compliance burden for a foreign investor is substantially reduced," said a senior finance ministry official. The directorate of Income Tax has devised a single integrated form that incorporates the requirements of both PAN and KYC.
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