MAT AND AMT
MAT stands for Minimum Alternate Tax and AMT stands for Alternate Minimum Tax. Initially the concept of MAT was introduced for companies and progressively it has been made applicable to all other taxpayers in the form of AMT.
Objective of levying MAT
At times it may happen that a taxpayer, being a company, may have generated income during the year, but by taking the advantage of various provisions of Income-tax Law (like exemptions, deductions, depreciation, etc.), it might have reduced its tax liability or may not have paid any tax at all. Due to increase in the number of zero tax paying companies, the objective of introduction of MAT is to bring into the tax net "zero tax companies" which in spite of having earned substantial book profits and having paid handsome dividends, do not pay any tax due to various tax concessions and incentives provided under the Income-tax Law. Hence the MAT has been introduced. Since the introduction of MAT, several changes have been introduced in the provisions of MAT and today it is levied on companies as per the provisions of section 115JB
Basic provisions of MAT
As per the concept of MAT, the tax liability of a company will be higher of the following:
∙ Tax liability of the company computed as per the normal provisions of the Income-tax Law, i.e., tax computed on the taxable income of the company by applying the tax rate applicable to the company. Tax computed in above manner can be termed as normal tax liability.
∙ Tax computed @ 18.5% (plus surcharge and cess as applicable) on book profit. The tax computed by applying 18.5% (plus surcharge and cess as applicable) on book profit is called MAT.
Note: MAT is levied at the rate of 9% (plus surcharge and cess as applicable) in case of a company, being a unit of an International Financial Services Centre and deriving its income solely in convertible foreign exchange.
Applicability and non-applicability of MAT
As per section 115JB, every taxpayer being a company is liable to pay MAT, if the Incometax(including surcharge and cess) payable on the total income, computed as per the provisions of the Income-tax Act in respect of any year is less than 18.50% of its book-profit + surcharge (SC) + education cess (EC) + secondary and higher education cess.
From the above it can be observed that the provisions of MAT are applicable to every company whether public or private and whether Indian or foreign. However, as per section 115JB(5A) MAT shall not apply to any income accruing or arising to a company from life insurance business referred to in section 115B. Further, as per provisions of Section 115V-O the provisions of MAT will not apply to a shipping income liable to tonnage taxation, i.e., tonnage taxation scheme as provided in section 115V to 115VZC
As per Explanation 4 to section 115JB as amended by Finance Act, 2016 with retrospective effect from 1/4/2001, it is clarified that the MAT provisions shall not be applicable and shall be deemed never to have been applicable to an assessee, being a foreign company, if—
(i) the assessee is a resident of a country or a specified territory with which India has an agreement referred to in sub-section (1) of section 90 or the Central Government has adopted any agreement under sub-section (1) of section 90A and the assessee does not have a permanent establishment in India in accordance with the provisions of such agreement; or
(ii) the assessee is a resident of a country with which India does not have an agreement of the nature referred to in clause (i) and the assessee is not required to seek registration under any law for the time being in force relating to companies.
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