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GOPIO strengthens Connections between India and Indian Diaspora: Demands Rajya Sabha Seat for NRIs

10 million NRIs who are citizens of India, have no representation in the decision making process of the country of their citizenship

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27th Anniversary of GOPIO. India West.
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GOPIO is a non-profit organization that takes up issues related to the Indian Diaspora and attempts to unify the community in its common causes. This community supported organization has one aim, to strengthens Connections between India and Indian Diaspora through Business.

“NRIs are an important factor in promoting India’s interest, in shaping relations between the “home” and the “host” countries and in helping steer a dynamic shift in India’s economic and political advantage in world affairs.” GOPIO said, “However, 10 million NRIs who are citizens of India, have no representation in the decision-making process of the country of their citizenship.”

The organization urges the Indian Government to nominate a small number of notable NRIs to be members of the Rajya Sabha in order to unite and strengthen the relationship between non-residential Indians and their home country.

27th Anniversary Celebrations and Biennial Convention. Image source: India West

This resolution was taken at the organizations’ 27th-anniversary celebrations on the 24th and 25th of July at the Marriott LaGuardia Hotel in New York, USA. The convention also resolved to allow NRIs “to exercise their right of franchise as enshrined in the Constitution of India” and make the possibility of NRIs voting in the Indian general election a reality.

Here is a list of resolutions, passed at the GOPIO Convention in New York (USA) on June 25, 2016:

1. Voting rights for Indian citizens living outside India

There are about 9 million NRIs, who help contribute to the economy as well as build India’s global image. They should be allowed to vote in the general election and the Election Commission of India should introduce electronic voting procedures before the next election.

2. Rajya Sabha seats for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs)
NRIs are an important factor in promoting India’s interest, in shaping relations between the “home” and the “host” countries and in helping steer a dynamic shift in India’s economic and political advantage in world affairs. However, 10 million NRIs who are citizens of India, have no representation in the decision making process of the country of their citizenship.
We urge the Government of India to nominate a few prominent NRIs as members of the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Parliament) so as to reinforce and further integrate the bonds between India and the overseas Indian community.
 
3. Pro-active Role for Indian Missions to Reach Out and Help Indian Citizens Needing Emergency Assistance
Indian Missions must be made more active and provide consular services to citizens in emergencies.
4. Engaging NRIs/PIOs for Educational, Health and Social Causes
The clearance process that the Home Ministry has put in place is not time efficient and should be streamlined. The many NRIs who wish to set up educational facilities in their home villages and cities, support social cause and the environment, as well as support their alma maters have to face significant problems.
5. Protection of Real Estate and Business Investments as well as Inherited assets
Protection of real estate, business investments, and inherited assets by designating fast track courts for NRIs and PIOs to avoid hindrances such as postponement of the hearing dates when they fly back and forth for them. The resolution also calls for a legislation that provides Title Insurance against forged signatures and other fraud.
6. Discriminative Admission Fee Rates for PIOs and OCI Card Holders
About five years ago, the Prime Minister of India made entrance fee to monuments same for all visitors. This yet to be put into practice. The fee is higher, even for NRIs who have been sending over 70 billion dollars to India, at monuments, hotels and other tourist places. GOPIO urges the government to take steps to implement equal entrance fee all over the country under the jurisdiction of states.
7. Taxing of NRIs/PIOs Social Security Benefits in India
Requesting the Finance Ministry to provide tax parity to NRIs that is similar to retirees. If NRIs move back to India, they often receive their social security benefits from a country that does not tax them. However, according to India laws this is taxed and the organization calls to change that.
 
8. Expand Know India Program
The Know India program is very successful but the scope of the program has not been realised. It should be expanded from 100 students to 2,000 every year. If needed, the government will not stand alone to sponsor the youth for the program and community groups in developed countries will be asked.
9. Set Up for Involvement with Ministries of Commerce, Science and Technology, Power, Rural Development, Tourism
A separate NRI/PIO advisory committee should be established and kept active to involve NRIs/PIOs if activities related to development of the individual ministries.
10. Set up NRI Ministry or NRI Coordination Office with All State Governments
A few states organize PBD-like programs during the return of Pravasis. These programs tend to attract the Pravasis since they relate to the environment in their home states. Kerela, Gujarat, and UP have established such interactions with NRIs who were originally from their states.

– by Varsha Gupta of NewsGram. Twitter: @VarshaGupta94

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Best Tax Saving Options for NRIs in A.Y. 2018-19

As an NRI, you are qualified for tax exemptions on specific investments in India

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  • NRIs are supposed to pay taxes to India as well
  • There are tips for this tax saving
  • NRIs can use many methods to save taxes

Non- Resident Indians (NRIs) are supposed to pay taxes on income earned in India during a particular financial year. So, any income that has been either accrued or received in India shall form part of the taxable income of NRI. If you have recently moved abroad, you may be worried about ensuring your tax compliance in India for the assessment year 2018-19. Moreover, you need to do tax saving in India with twofold goals- decrease tax liability and increase return on investments. While tax saving is essential, you should strive to invest prudently to reap the maximum benefit of the savings.

These simple tips will help NRIs in tax saving.

If you are an NRI and searching for investment options with tax saving benefits, you should realise that there are various options for the same. Take a look at these tax saving options for NRIs in A.Y. 2018-19:

Bank Deposits

For money to be parked for short-term or long-term investments, NRI can have any one of three following types of banks accounts:

  1. Non-Resident External Rupee Account (NRE): In this type of account, your funds in foreign currency are converted into Indian rupees and the rate prevailing at the time of conversion is applicable. The benefit here is-Interest earned on NRE account is exempt from tax for an individual who qualifies as a ‘person resident outside India’ under the exchange control law.
  2. Non-Resident Ordinary Rupee Account (NRO): Interest earned on NRO account (savings or fixed) is fully taxable. A deduction up to Rs 10,000 may be claimed for interest earned on savings account while filing the tax return.
  3. Foreign Currency Non-Resident Bank Deposit (FCNR): It is a term deposit or fixed deposit account, where NRIs can deposit their money in foreign currency. The deposits canbe made for a minimum maturity period of one year and maximum maturity period of 5 years. The interest earned under this account is tax-free, whereas the principal amount is taxed under wealth tax.

    Opening bank deposits can help save taxes. ecointersect.com

Other popular means of claiming a deduction from gross total income is via Section 80C.

Deductions Under Section 80C

Term Insurance

NRIs can invest in term insurance, a type of life cover, which provides financial coverage to the insured. If the insured expires during the tenure of the policy, then death benefit is payable to the nominee. A deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh is allowed for the premium paid towards term insurance plans as per Section 80C. This deduction can be claimed where the plan has been purchased in the NRI’s name or the name of his/her spouse. Moreover, purchasing online insurance plans like term plans has turned out to be simple, hence you can easily go for these online insurance plans and avail tax benefits on the premium payable.

Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs)

Unit Linked Insurance Plans offer duals benefits of life insurance and investment. Some part of the premium is utilised as insurance coverage to the policyholder, while the remaining amount is invested in various debt and equity schemes. As with all life insurance plans, the amount invested in a ULIP is available for tax deductions for NRIs.

Subject to certain conditions, the premium paid for ULIPs is allowed as a deduction under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. ULIP premium can be deducted from your taxable income up to Rs 1.5 lakh, which is currently the permissible limit.

Loan to Buy a Home

Buying a house property is beneficial for you (NRI) as the interest income and principal income will allow for a tax rebate. The total deduction for interest payment on home advances is Rs 1.5 lakh, whereas the principal amount repayment on home loan already qualifies for a tax rebate of Rs 1 lakh.

Equity Linked Mutual Fund schemes (ELSS)

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Loaning a house can help save taxes for NRIs. Pixabay

For NRIs, ELSS also offers similar benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. ELSS are equity-linked mutual fund schemes investing in a diversified portfolio of Indian stocks. ELSS schemes can be purchased online, yet remember, there is an element of risk in ELSS as money is put into equity markets. Be that as it may, they are tax efficient instruments for NRIs.

National Pension Scheme (NPS)

You can subscribe to NPS if you have retained your Indian citizenship and planned to retire in India. You can contribute to NPS from NRE and NRO accounts. However, the pension needs to be received in India only and cannot be repatriated. Your investment up to 1.5 lakh can be used to avail tax deductions.

NPS comes under EET tax structure (Exempt-Exempt-Tax) and is a cost-effective, government-backed retirement savings plan. All the contributions and accrued capital gains are exempt from tax; however, withdrawal is subject to tax.

Also Read: Rich NRI Keralites Seek State-of-the-Art Old Age Homes to Ensure Stress-Free Life for their Aged Parents

Other Allowable Deductions:

Health Insurance- Deduction under Section 80D

NRIs can take health insurance from Indian companies for themselves or their family members and claim a deduction for the premium paid under Section 80D. Additionally, health plans like cancer insurance plans serve as monthly income plan with different payout options made available upon diagnosis of the disease. The availability monthly income plan feature offers a comprehensive financial coverage for the life assured as well as his family.

The deduction for health insurance is up to Rs25,000 for insurance of self. You can claim a deduction for insurance of parents up to Rs30,000 if their parents are a senior citizen (above 60 years) and Rs25,000 if the parents are below 60 years.

Education Loan- Deduction under Section 80E

Like resident Indians, NRIs can also take educational loans and claim tax deductions on the interest paid under section 80E. This loan might be either taken for higher education for self, spouse or children.

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Saving money by saving taxes now becomes easy for NRIS with these tips. Pixabay.

Besides, there is no limit on the amount which can be claimed as a deduction, and deduction is offered for a maximum of eight years or till the interest is paid, whichever is earlier.Additionally, no deduction is allowed on the principal repayment of the loan.

Conclusion:

As an NRI, you are qualified for tax exemptions on specific investments in India. Before investing, you should make an informed choice by understanding tax laws in India, in addition to the nation of your residence. Moreover, you must select tax saving instruments which would enable repatriation of income at maturity. Your investment decisions should consider your life objectives and also repatriation restrictions on investments in India.