Does an NRI have to pay inheritance tax?


I am an NRI (non-resident Indian) living in the US for more than a decade. My mother died recently and I will inherit one of the immovable properties from her estate. Can I receive and hold immovable property in India, and if so, what are the tax implications on this?

—Name withheld on request

Under Fema (Foreign Exchange Management Act) regulations, an NRI can inherit immovable property situated in India from an Indian resident without the permission of the Reserve Bank of India. Further, the inheritance of such property is not subject to any income tax in India. India does not levy any inheritance taxes too.

I am an Indian passport holder living in the UAE since 2015. I recently came to know that there are some changes in the tax law which can treat NRIs as Indian residents. Please explain this change in tax law?

—Name withheld on request

With effect from FY2020-21, the tax law has been amended to provide that any Indian citizen who is not ‘liable to tax’ in any other country shall be deemed to be a tax resident in India. This change was introduced to address the situation of some Indian citizens who travelled across the world but still remained stateless in terms of tax residency during the particular FY and accordingly did not pay taxes anywhere across the world. However, as an adverse fallout of this amendment, all NRIs residing in UAE came to be automatically covered under this new provision and were treated as tax residents of India though only a small part of foreign income earned by them could become taxable in India. This was the situation if they were not eligible to take benefits of the DTAA (double tax avoidance Agreement) between India and the UAE

Interestingly, UAE has recently introduced its new tax law which applies to individuals too, where they are exempt on incomes earned other than from business activities. Thus, NRIs residing in UAE may now claim to be ‘liable to tax’ in UAE and accordingly, remain outside the scope of the amended provisions of the tax law of India.

Harshal Bhuta is partner, P.R. Bhuta & Co. Chartered Accountants.

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Updated: 07 Aug 2023, 10:50 PM IST

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