Nokia, IBM, Vodafone may get to settle out-of-court

There may be hope for telecom and information technology majors Vodafone, Nokia and IBM: when the Narendra Modi-led NDA government assumes office, they are likely to be invited for out-of-court settlements of their pending tax disputes in India.

A senior telecom ministry official close to former NDA government leaders said such an invitation was highly likely.

A communications ministry official who handles tax and finance departments, however, said that “as a policy, the government can review the tax imposed, but not when it is a rule.”

Prime Minister-in-waiting Modi is likely to announce a slew of pro-investment decisions in June, when the Cabinet meets to discuss the economic policy roadmap for the NDA government. “Taxation, especially in telecom, cannot be a hindrance for future investments, it will be revisited,” said a source close to senior functionaries of BJP’s economic wing.

Vodafone is facing a Rs 20,000 crore tax case in India, while US-based IBM is contesting a revenue department claim that values the company’s taxable income at a substantially higher-than-disclosed Rs 11,000 crore. Nokia’s Indian subsidiary is under an I-T notice for violating withholding tax norms since 2006 while paying royalty to the parent company.

Responding to an email from HT, a spokesperson for Nokia said, “Nokia is keen to work with the new government … to seek amicable resolution of the current tax dispute.”

Vodafone did not respond to HT’s email.


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