Working in India means participating in one of the fastest-growing and most diverse economies worldwide. With an economically active population of nearly 500 million, the country boasts the second largest labor force on the globe.
Although the annual GDP growth rate slowed down to 5% in 2012 — half of what it was in 2010 — experts say that India is still far from having achieved its full economic potential. India has shown significant signs of recovery from their slump in 2012 and, in 2014, boasted a GDP growth rate of 7.5%. An inadequate infrastructure is said to lie at the heart of their problems, holding the country back on its way to becoming the next economic superpower.
Competition for skilled jobs is high among qualified employees working in India. Fortunately, the huge supply of candidates for skilled employment increasingly attracts international companies seeking to outsource work.
This trend has been encouraged by the Indian government. Since 1991, it has placed an increasing emphasis on foreign trade and investment by relaxing its hold on the economy. As multinational companies tend to have an international workforce, the number of expats working in India is also on the rise.
The agricultural sector, while only generating 17% of the national GDP, employs roughly half of all people working in India. This includes employees in modern agricultural industries as well as traditional village farmers. Apart from tea, Indian farmers mainly grow rice, wheat, sugarcane, fruit, and vegetables.
The industrial sector, with a GDP share of 30%, creates jobs for nearly 25% of people working in India. The sheer number of employees in the cement industry is instrumental in making it the second largest cement-producing country in the world. Other industries that employ considerable numbers of people include textiles, transport equipment, mining, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, software, and machinery.
Last but not least, the strong (and growing) service sector is responsible for 53% of the national GDP, employing roughly 30% of the active population. Several fields of work, notably information technology, IT-enabled services, telecommunications, as well as financial, social, personal, cultural, and recreational services have grown faster than the rest of the economy. The term “financial services” is used as an umbrella term referring to those working in India’s banks, real estate firms, and insurance companies.
With some exceptions, foreigners living and working in India are subject to Indian taxation laws. The tax system has undergone some liberal reforms in order to boost trade and investment.
Since April 2011, new income tax rates are in force for people working in India: 0% for an annual income not exceeding 250,000 INR, 10% for everything between that and 500,000 INR, and 20% for the next income bracket with an upper limit of 1,000,000 INR. Finally, everyone working in India and earning more than 1,000,000 INR per year is taxed 30% of their total income.
Foreign investors and companies or international employees working in India who do not have resident status can benefit from two government strategies for avoiding double taxation. Over 80 DTAAs (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements) with various countries provide bilateral relief. For a more or less up-to-date list, please check the relevant section of the Income Tax Department website.
Expats who are on assignments not exceeding 183 days in one financial year and whose salary is not paid by an Indian company are taxed in their country of residence rather than in the “source” country. In other cases, where jurisdiction is given to both countries, the “residence” country agrees to give credit for taxes paid in the “source” country.
The Income Tax Act also allows for the possibility of unilateral relief, giving the Indian Government the authority to exempt certain individuals from double taxation.
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