NGOs and their overseas operations

Diwali greetings to SRRF colleagues!

Writing with a request for some guidance:

As part of one of our research studies, we are looking at Indian CSOs engagement with development cooperation. We have interviewed CSO voices some of who mentioned difficulties in terms of CSOs getting involved overseas to engage with development cooperation (in partnership with other agencies). In this regard, two specific queries were:

  • Does the FCRA limit or prevent Indian CSOs from establishing subsidiary offices overseas? If so, in what way? Are the limitations strictly in terms of income tax liabilities?
  • What does the Income Tax Act/ Direct Taxes Code state with regard to the above issue?

Would be most grateful if someone could throw some light on this?

Best wishes,

Pooja Parvati
Research Manager, Oxfam India

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One Response to NGOs and their overseas operations

  1. Subhash Mittal says:

    Dear Pooja,

    S.11 (1) basically exempts income of a charitable trust, if spent on charitable or religious purposes in India. Thus problem would be that any grant given by an Indian charitable / religious entity to a foreign entity as grant would not qualify for exemption under Income Tax Act. This could pose problems for a taxable entity as this could mean tax issues for it. Of course funds can be sent outside India if specific permission has been taken from CBDT or if any general permission for that country already exists.

    Regarding FCRA there is no clause under the Act which prohibits transfer of FCRA funds outside India, all an entity needs to do is disclose how the funds were utilised in its Annual return. However lately we have come across situations where FCRA Dept has refused permission even where the funds were to be returned back to the donor, who originally gave money. Though, I believe (there could be others who may believe otherwise), that prohibiting transfer of funds to donor, which is allowed by RBI, is illegal. However nobody wants to argue with FCRA, so there diktat seems to be becoming the norm.



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