Everything You Need to Know About Your Expat Taxes in India

Everything You Need to Know About Your Expat Taxes in India

Living as an American Expat in India

India is home to more US expats than almost any other country—and it isn’t hard to see why. India has plenty to offer with a vibrant culture, delicious food, and ample career opportunities. But what are India’s tax policies like for an American living overseas? Read on for all the answers you need.

India at a Glance

  • Primary Tax Form for Residents: ITR-1, ITR-2, ITR-3, ITR-4, ITR-5, ITR-6, ITR-7, and ITR-V
  • Tax Year: April 1—March 31
  • Tax Deadline: July 31
  • Currency: Indian rupee (INR)
  • Population: 1.3 billion
  • Number of US Expats: Estimated 700,000
  • Capital City: New Delhi
  • Primary Language: Hindi
  • Tax Treaty: Yes
  • Totalization Agreement: No

What Are Expat Taxes like for Americans Living in India?

If you live in India, you must pay taxes to the Indian government. Unfortunately, this doesn’t cancel your US tax obligations. The US has a citizenship-based taxation system, meaning citizens must report their income to the IRS regardless of where they live.

As you might expect, this can complicate your expat taxes. To help clear up any confusion, let’s take a closer look at how India may help you pay taxes as an American living overseas. 

Who Has to File Taxes in India?

India has a residence-based taxation system. There are three categories of tax residency under Indian law:

  • Resident and ordinarily resident (ROR)
  • Resident but not ordinarily resident (RNOR)
  • Non-resident (NR)

Expats who qualify as ROR are taxed on their worldwide income. Expats who are RNOR or NR are only taxed on income that comes from an Indian source.

Who Qualifies as a Tax Resident in India?

As an American expat, you will be considered a resident of India if you meet either of the following standards:

  • You spend at least 182 days in India in a single year
  • You spend at least 60 days in India in a single year, as well as at least 365 days over the previous four years

If you do not meet these standards, you will be considered a non-resident for tax purposes. If you qualify as a resident, you will be either a ROR or an RNOR. (See the above section for more.) You will be considered an RNOR and taxed as a non-resident if either of the following is true:

  • You have been a non-resident for at least nine of ten previous tax years.
  • You have been in India for less than 730 days in the previous seven years.

Otherwise, you will be considered a ROR and taxed on your worldwide income.

The IRS tax code is 7,000 pages. Want the cliff notes version for expats? Let us help.

What Types of Taxation Does India Have?

Income Tax

India taxes both residents and non-residents at the same progressive rates, ranging from 0% to 30%. Below, you can see the standard 2022 Indian income tax rates. (All amounts given in INR.)

Annual Income (INR)Tax Rate
0 – 250,0000%
250,000 – 500,0005%
500,000 – 1,000,00020%
1,000,000 and over30%

For taxpayers between the ages of 60 and 80, there is a basic exemption of 300,000 INR. For taxpayers 80 and older, this exemption increases to 500,000 INR.

India also offers a set of alternate tax rates that Indian taxpayers can opt for. These rates are generally lower, but unlike the standard rates, they cannot be reduced further through deductions or exemptions. The current rates for the optional alternate tax are shown below. (All amounts are given in INR.)

Annual Income (INR)Tax Rate
0 – 250,0000%
250,000 – 500,0005%
500,000 – 750,00010%
750,000 – 1,000,00015%
1,000,000 – 1,250,00020%
1,250,000 – 1,500,00025%
1,500,000 and over30%

Which tax scheme is better for you? That will depend on your unique tax situation and how many deductions or exemptions you can claim. A qualified expat tax professional will advise you on the best choice in your case.

Capital Gains Tax

India taxes capital gains resulting from selling various assets, including property and securities. Capital gains are taxed at different rates based on residency status and the length of time the seller held the asset.

  • Long-term capital gains are generally taxed at 10%
  • Short-term capital gains are generally taxed at 15%

Value-Added Tax

India imposes a value-added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services. The rate for this tax ranges from 5% to 28, but it is most commonly set at 18%.

Property Tax

Property is taxed at the local level. The rate for property taxes varies by region.

Corporate Income Tax

As with individual taxation, India’s corporate tax policies are based on residency. Resident companies are taxed on their worldwide income, while non-resident companies are taxed on only their Indian-source income. For domestic companies, the rate ranges from 25% to 30%. For foreign companies, the rate is fixed at 40%.

Provident Fund

In India, there is no social security tax, but rather a provident fund system. Employees contribute 12% of their basic salary to this fund, matched equally by the employer. This system is somewhat akin to the 401k plan in the US, but with key differences. Notably, contributions to this provident fund are not eligible for tax deductions on US tax returns. Instead, both employee and employer contributions are added back when calculating gross income for reporting on US tax returns.

Essential Tax Forms for US Expats in India 

If you are a US expat living in India, there are several essential tax forms you need to be aware of to ensure that you remain compliant with US tax laws. Here are some of the most important tax forms: 

  • Form 1040: This is the main tax form that all US citizens and residents must file every year, regardless of where they live. As a US expat in India, you will need to file a US tax return using Form 1040. 
  • Form 2555: This form is used to claim the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE), which allows you to exclude a certain amount of foreign-earned income from your US taxable income. To qualify for the FEIE, you must meet certain residency and physical presence requirements. 
  • Form 1116: This form is used to claim the Foreign Tax Credit (FTC), which allows you to offset your US tax liability with taxes paid to India. The FTC is particularly useful if you are subject to higher tax rates in India than in the US. 
  • FBAR: The Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) is used to report foreign bank accounts if the total value of all foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. 
  • FATCA: The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires US citizens and residents to report certain foreign financial assets on Form 8938 if their value exceeds certain thresholds. 

These are just a few of the essential tax forms for US expats in India. It’s important to work with a qualified expat tax professional service like Greenback to ensure that you are filing all the necessary forms and staying compliant with US tax laws. 

When Are Taxes Due in India?

The Indian tax year starts on April 1 and ends on March 31 of the following year. Tax returns are due on July 31. In cases where a taxpayer is required to have their books of account audited, the due date is pushed back to October 31.

Pro Tip

When filing taxes in India, married couples must file separate returns. There is no option for filing a joint return.

Does the US Have a Tax Treaty with India?

Yes. The US-India tax treaty defines which country has the right to tax a given income stream, removing the risk of double taxation. In most cases, you will pay your taxes to the country in which you are considered a resident.

The tax treaty covers a range of taxes, including income tax, estate tax, and gift tax. It also includes provisions for resolving disputes and exchanging information between the two countries tax authorities. Under the treaty, residents of one country are given certain tax benefits in the other country, such as reduced withholding taxes on dividends, interest, and royalties. 

The tax treaty has played an important role in facilitating trade and investment between the US and India. It has helped to create a more predictable and stable tax environment for businesses and individuals operating in both countries. 

Does the US Have a Totalization Agreement with India?

No. The US and India do not currently have a totalization agreement in place. This means that Americans who live and work in India may be required to contribute to both nations’ social security systems.

Navigating Tax Compliance for US Expats in India

Navigating tax compliance as a US expat in India can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right guidance and resources, you can confidently navigate the complexities of expat taxes and ensure compliance with both Indian and US tax laws.

Remember to stay informed about the latest tax regulations, keep accurate records, and seek professional help when needed. By taking these steps, you can avoid penalties, protect your finances, and enjoy a stress-free life as an expat in India.

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