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Derivative Market and Taxation
Anubhav Sharma Avinash Kumar Abhishek Debarun Hazra Manoj Bag Tarun Agarwal Smit Vasudev Sahil Manchanda

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Introduction
 Derivatives are primarily risk management tools. More accurately, they are volatility management tools.  Futures, options and OTC derivatives markets are integral parts of almost all economies of the world which have reached an advanced stage of development.  The Indian government, based on the L.C. Gupta Committee recommendations, has allowed trading in derivatives to begin in India.  The Derivatives Bill, passed recently, will give trading on the domestic bourses a new dimension, as  index-based trading would finally be permitted, a long-standing demand in the Indian markets.  The shares underlying a stock exchange index would be traded as a single unit.  The passing of the Derivatives Bill also requires a change in the definition of „securities‟ in the Securities Contract (Regulation) Act (SCRA), to include the words 'futures' and 'options'.

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Its All Derivatives
 'Derivative' is an instrument whose value depends on its underlying cash or physical asset.  Hence it means that the value is derived from the value of the underlying assets like foreign exchange, currency, securities and commodities. It also includes market indices such as the LIBOR, BSE Sensex or benchmark interest rates  Derivatives include forward, future and option contracts that are of a pre-determined fixed duration.  Derivatives are used to hedge against price, currency and interest rate risk. Since derivative instruments do not involve risks, they help redistribute the risk between market participants.  Hence, derivatives in this sense are used for risk management. Derivatives can also be used for speculative functions.

 Financial derivatives provide for the purchase or sale of traditional financial instruments in the future at prices that are agreed upon on the day of the contract.  A financial derivative is a financial instrument whose value is linked in some way to the value of another instrument.  The underlying assets could be securities. and futures represent a more efficient way of hedging risk”. Gupta Committee formed in November 1996. “the development of futures trading is an advancement over forward trading. currencies or indices. .  Financial derivatives are used for hedging. The value is derived from a basic financial instrument. speculation and arbitrage. commodities.your company name Financial Derivatives  According to the L. C. underlying the transaction.

A will pay Rs. 100 to B and B will deliver the shares of C Ltd.  Example 1: 'A' agrees to purchase from 'B' 100 shares of 'C Ltd.' on a fixed future date for a pre-determined price of Rs. to A. on the fixed future date.your company name Forward Contracts  Traders and investors who wish to hedge against their future risks use the forward markets. Cash equivalent to Full Contract value A Shares B . Such contracts are used to hedge against price fluctuations. Here. 100. This market is characterized by actual delivery of the underlying asset in most cases at the predetermined date.

then A will pay to B Rs. The agreed price is also known as 'strike price'. If for instance. the price of C Ltd. If the price of C Ltd.your company name Futures  A future contract is a contract by which one party agrees to sell to the other party on a specified future date. 120 then B will pay to A Rs. 100 on 31st December. is Rs. on 31st December. 90. at Rs. a specified asset at a price agreed at the time of the contract and payable on the maturity date.  Some types of financial futures contracts are:  • Currency futures  • Interest futures  • Stock index futures  Example 2: 'A' enters into a future contract to purchase from 'B' shares of C Ltd. 20 per share. 10 per share. is Rs. .

your company name Cont…  The basic difference between forward and future contracts is that in a forward contract. In the case of future contracts.e. only the net differential between the strike price and the market price on the date of exercise is exchanged. exchange of assets take place. A Net payments depending on Gain or Loss B . the entire principal flows from one party to another i. on the other hand.

. thus restricting his loss to the amount of the premium paid by him. if the price of C Ltd. on exercise date is Rs 120.your company name Options  An Option contract is a further variation of a forward or future contract. 90 then. to sell an asset in the future at a pre-determined price  Example 3: In example 2. However. if the price falls to Rs. he will not exercise the option. then A will exercise the option as he stands to benefit from doing so. but not an obligation. to buy an asset in the future at a pre-determined price.  A call option is the right. call options and put options.  They are of two types.  A put option is a right. but not an obligation.

your company name Cont… A Net payments depending on Gain or Loss (optional) B Premium .

 In a cap. It can not be higher than cap price and lower than floor price determined in a collar contract. . Floors and Collars  Caps. only an upper limit on the strike price is fixed.  A collar is a combination of cap and floor. strike price will be within a range of prices. the market price is higher than the cap price then the cap price will be the strike price otherwise the market price will be the strike price.your company name Caps. the only difference being that in case of floors the lower limit for the strike price is fixed. If on the maturity date.  A floor is similar to a cap. In this case. the strike price for an option is not fixed. floors and collars are series of options.

 Example 4: A has borrowed from B at LIBOR + 2%. who is willing to borrow at LIBOR + 2% and lend at 9%. A and C can enter into a swap transaction whereby A borrows from C at 9% and lends to C at LIBOR + 2% on a notional principal. The actual amounts of the principals are never exchanged. Re-exchange of the principal sum at the pre-determined rate on the maturity of the swap agreement. . Exchange of interest payment during the tenure of the swap 3. C on the other hand is another player in the market.  A plain vanilla currency swap involves the following steps: 1. Only the interest payments are exchanged on net basis. Exchange of equivalent amounts in different currencies 2. A now desires a fixed rate of interest at about 9%.your company name Swaps  A swap is a contract whereby parties agree to exchange obligations that each of them have under their respective underlying contracts.

your company name Cont… LIBOR+2% C 9% Primary Liability A L I B O R + 2 % B .

under which every derivative transaction is analyzed into a number of cash flows.your company name Approaches to Taxation  IFA has published a comparative study of taxation of derivatives in about 29 countries.under which the related transactions are clubbed together to analyze the overall profit of the entire transaction. . there are three basic approaches to taxation of derivatives :  (1) Decomposition principle . As per the study.under which each derivative contract is looked at in isolation to establish an overall return on investment  (3) Linked approach . each of which can be separately valued and taxed  (2) Separate Transaction principle .

your company name Quote  “Derivatives are not inherently bad or good. dangerous if mishandled. but bearing the potential to do tremendous good. They are a bit like electricity. (Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission) .” -Levitt.

your company name CASE STUDY  In 1995. . he exceeded his authority by taking huge overnight positions.3 billion by Nicholas William Lesson. a man who had established a great track record of being a savvy trader in the derivatives market.  Though he had permission for intra day trading activities. He traded simultaneously in Tokyo stock exchange-Nikkei 225 and Singapore Stock Exchange along with Osaka Stock exchange. financial markets the world over were shocked when the 233 year-old Barings Investment Bank was left with a loss of $ 1. Japan. His strategy amounted to a bet that the Japanese stock market would neither fall not go up substantially.

Japan. misrepresenting the profitability of trading activities and a number of false trading transactions and accounting entries. giving false reports. he always represented to the top management that he had been making profits in trading activities. .your company name Cont…  The Japanese stock market started falling on the news of a violent earthquake in Kobe. This was concealed by not divulging the details of account „88888‟ to Barings in London. Barings took a self destructive step when it allowed Lesson to act both as front office trader and back office settlements manager.  Thereafter. All through this. he scaled up his trading activities in futures and options.  Lesson used this to his full advantage and opened an account „88888‟ which he used to hide losses that he was making on derivative trading activities. and by December 1994 had accumulated losses of $208 million on that account.

your company name Cont…  Lesson expected Tokyo‟s NIKKEI stock index to rise substantially at the beginning of 1995 and took huge positions. A single trader could not direct the market as desired and consequently the market fell drastically. . The Bank was unable to sustain these losses and one trader collapsed one of the most oldest and prestigious banks in England. which he lost heavily on when the index did not rise. He bought 20000 futures contract over a period of three months in a futile attempt to move the market. The result is well known. Barings registered colossal losses on Lesson‟s positions. As a result.

your company name Issues  There seems to be a general acceptance of the theory that the taxation of derivative financial instruments (popularly known as DFIs) is not to be determined by reference to the tax treatment of the underlying instrument to which the derivative relates. timing and cash flow  3) Withholding tax implications .e.  There are three key issues in taxation of a derivative transaction :  1) Characterization of income i. business income or interest  2) Determination of income i.e. Most countries seem to have adopted the second i. separate transaction principle.e.

.  In 1995. the payment for a financial instrument will not be regarded as 'interest'. has been dealt with in the 1994 Report of the OECD on "Taxation of New Financial Instruments".  In view of this peculiarity. derivative financial instruments do not involve a return on initial investment. Paragraph 21. This was made subject to 'substance over form„ rule and 'abuse of rights' principle.your company name Cont…  Unlike traditional debt and equity securities and foreign currency.1 was added to the OECD Commentary on Article 11 which made it abundantly clear that in the absence of underlying debt. the characterization of income is of great significance in order to determine its taxability  Whether the income arising from a derivative transaction can be regarded as interest.

the income arising from a derivative transaction should be regarded as 'ordinary income'.  If a derivative transaction is entered into in the ordinary course of business. . income arising from a derivative transaction should not be taxable in the country of source unless there exists a Permanent Establishment. under both these situations.  In a cross-border transaction where a tax treaty applies.your company name Derivative and type of income  In general. it should be considered as 'business income'  otherwise. it should be characterized as 'other income'.

 Initially. there will be intermediate value dates on which interest or dividend becomes payable on the underlying securities. there may be a premium paid.  Further. .  Finally.your company name Point of Taxation  The next issue arises as to when the income should be taxed. at the maturity. When and how to tax these cash flows may to some extend depend upon the method of accounting adopted by the tax payer. there is an ultimate settlement of the difference. There are several points at which the income from a derivative transaction may arise. many contracts are 'marked to market" which means that their value is adjusted in view of the market value of the underlying asset on a periodic basis. In many transactions.

this will depend upon the domestic tax law provisions in each country and the provisions of relevant tax treaties applicable to such companies. it is crucial that there are no withholding taxes leviable on such income. .your company name Cont…  Since in most of the cross-border transactions. derivative income may not be taxed in the absence of a PE.  However.

Therefore. or income that accrues or arises to them in India2.  General provision under the Income tax Act:  Indian residents are subject to tax on their worldwide income. income can be "deemed to accrue or arise in India" and thereby be subject to tax in India3.your company name Taxation of Derivatives in India  Derivative transactions are still in nascent stage in India and their tax implications are still to be tested by the Indian revenue authorities. Margins in a swap transaction are extremely narrow. Generally. under certain conditions. Further. .  There are no precedents directly on the subject. non-residents on the other hand are taxed only on income received by them in India. the imposition of taxes by the country of the payer substantially alters the profitability of a swap. the entire tax payable by a nonresident in respect of income earned in India is liable to be withheld at source.

through or from any business connection/property/asset or source of income in India. is deemed to accrue or arise in India.your company name Cont…  Section 9 of the I-T Act covers situations under which income which can be “deemed to accrue or arise in India". .  Under Section 9(1)(i) of the I-T Act.  Only such part of the income as is reasonably attributable to the operations carried out in India can be deemed to accrue or arise in India. all income accruing or arising.

 In general. which yields profits or gains and some activity (in India) which contributes directly or indirectly to the earning of these profits or gains.your company name Cont…  the Indian tax laws do not specifically distinguish between "doing business in India" and "doing business with India".  The term "business connection“ which is crucial to determination of taxable business income in India. it can be interpreted as a continuous relationship between a business carried on by a non-resident entity. . is not statutorily defined.

 If.  The position adopted by courts has been that such profits/losses would ordinarily be trading profit/losses if the foreign currency is held by the assessee in revenue account or as a trading asset or as part of circulating capital.your company name Cont…  Though there are no direct cases on the point. on the other hand. . such profit or loss would be of capital nature. the foreign currency is held by the assessee as a capital asset or as fixed capital. courts have opined on the taxability of profits/losses arising to an assessee merely due to the appreciation or depreciation in the value of foreign currency held by it.

1999 has enlarged the scope of the word „interest‟.your company name Cont…  The Finance Act. Now.  This would mean that any payment made for hedging against foreign currency rate fluctuations in respect of foreign currency debt obligation may be exempt from taxation in India . interest includes hedging transaction charges on account of currency fluctuation.

swap fees and premiums on options. dividend or royalty payments. free of withholding taxes.  The taxation is determined in the country of residence. are remitted gross.  The same principle should apply to payments of differences on futures contracts. Most countries have regarded payments under derivative contracts as falling outside 'interest' and 'dividend' articles as they do not reflect the true return on capital.your company name Withholding Tax :  In general. Most of these payments fall within 'business profits' or 'other income' articles and therefore. withholding tax is levied on interest. .

the whole of which may not be income or profit of the recipient. . CIT11.  The Supreme Court has authoritatively settled this issue in the case of Transmission Corporation of AP Ltd.your company name Indian Scenerio  Section 195(1) of the I-T Act entrusts the payer with the liability to withhold tax on certain payments being made to a foreign recipient. but also to gross sums.  The Apex court has held that the scheme under section 195 of the ITA applies not only to the amounts that bear an element of income or profit. V.  An issue arises with respect to withholdings under section 195 that whether the payer has to deduct tax on the gross amount of payments due to the non-resident. or on the income or profit element received by the non-resident.

exemption from withholding taxes is available only if the payments (not classified as interest on securities or dividend) are received by the branch operating in India. on its own account and are not received on behalf of the head office or any other branch situated outside India.your company name Cont…  It is pertinent to note that in case of a banking company. .

 There is a strong case for the swap payment to constitute business income in the hands of the non-resident recipient as against interest income or other income.your company name Tax Implications on Swaps :  The issue involved is one of characterization of the settlement amount.  Under the I-T Act. claim or other similar right or obligation) and includes any service fee or other charge in respect of the moneys borrowed or debt incurred or in respect of any credit facility which has not been utilized. . the term "interest" is defined under section 2(28A) to mean interest payable in any manner in respect of moneys borrowed or debt incurred (including a deposit.  The characterization of the amount could be either business income or interest income.

where the deal is structured in a manner where there is a debt incurred and the payment is made in respect of debt incurred. there is no money borrowed or debt incurred. Therefore. such payment could be regarded as 'interest'. in a synthetic transaction.your company name Cont…  In a swap transaction.  However. The principal of a swap deal is the notional amount and the adjustment takes place between the bank and the counterparty in respect of the amounts payable by them. .  Only the net amount changes hands. such amounts should qualify as trading income.

such a situation may be the practical reality faced by the Indian corporate who are forced to enter into synthetic transactions. especially where the non-resident counterparty is from a treaty jurisdiction. .your company name Cont…  In the Indian context.  The consequences may be different in a cross-border transaction.

 This rate could be reduced further depending upon the tax treaty provisions. . they may attract a withholding tax in India at the rate of 20% on the gross amount16.  If a foreign company earns any business income that is deemed to accrue or arise in India.your company name Cont…  If these amounts were to be treated as interest. it would be liable to be taxed at the current applicable rate of 48% on its net business income.

was treated as a speculative loss and was eligible to be set off only against speculative income up to a maximum period of eight years.your company name Summary  The Income Tax Act.  Therefore. derivatives transaction are held at par with transactions of speculative nature. if any.  The tax authorities are still undecided on this issue. and in the absence of any provision. the index futures/options which were essentially cash settled. the loss.  It is suggested that derivatives instruments are essentially used by investors to hedge risks. arising from derivatives transactions.  . particularly. are treated this way. and therefore they should not be considered as speculative transactions. 1961 of India did not have any specific provision regarding taxability of derivatives income.

your company name Cont…  They should be taxed as short-term capital gains or losses on securities. The problem of lack of clarity on taxation needs to be addressed urgently. .

Such provision would therefore not be deductible if the derivatives transaction income is taxable as capital gains. and not on any interim date. . there is no provision for deduction of such provision. i.  Further. the dilemma is that if the derivatives transactions are regarded as taxable under the head “Capital Gains”. in computing capital gains. only the cost of acquisition.e. particularly as the gains would be computed and taxable only on the date of transfer.your company name Conclusion  The entire concept of taxation of derivatives is at crossroads. the date of squaring up or expiry of the derivatives. cost of improvement and expenses in connection with the transfer are deductible.

the income/loss thereon should be assessed as normal business income / loss. the real income theory would again require the deduction of such provision for loss in determining the taxable income.your company name Cont… If the derivatives transactions are taxable as “Income from Other Sources”. derivatives transactions are pure business transactions and hence.  .  There could be two possible interpretations viz.  The other view is that derivatives are covered under the definition of speculative transaction under section 43(5) of the Act in absence of delivery of the underlying security or commodity.

and at times trading in derivatives has even surpassed trading in their underlying instruments.your company name Contd. more complex and less transparent.  Under the Act. there is a general lack of understanding of how they operate or how they should be managed . However. derivatives are more risky than other traditional financial products because they are highly leveraged. However. Being relatively newer instruments. setoff of such carried forward speculative losses is allowed to be setoff only against speculation profits.. speculative profits/losses are allowed to be setoff only against speculative losses/profits respectively.  This conclusion is supported by the fact that derivatives have grown at explosive rates.  The unabsorbed speculative losses are allowed to be carried forward for 8 immediately succeeding assessment years.

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