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Wisemonk is a leader in Employer of Record (EOR) on G2
Wisemonk is a leader in Employer of Record (EOR) on G2
Wisemonk is a leader in Asia Employer of Record (EOR) on G2
Wisemonk is a leader in Employer of Record (EOR) on G2
Wisemonk is a leader in Employer of Record (EOR) on G2

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Navigating GST and IT Compliance for Contractors in India Working with International Companies


India has emerged as a hub for international companies seeking skilled contractors across various domains. The growing trend of engaging Indian contractors has brought to the forefront the importance of understanding Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Income Tax (IT) compliance. Navigating these regulations is crucial for both contractors and international companies to ensure smooth operations and avoid legal complications.

Understanding GST Compliance

1. GST Registration

Contractors in India must register for GST based on turnover thresholds. As per the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, the threshold for registration is Rs. 20 lakhs for service providers and Rs. 40 lakhs for goods suppliers. However, these limits vary for certain states like Manipur, Mizoram, and Tripura, where the threshold is Rs. 10 lakhs.

2. Invoicing

GST-compliant invoices must include essential elements such as the GSTIN of the supplier and recipient, invoice number, date, description of goods or services, taxable value, and applicable GST rates. Contractors must ensure that their invoices adhere to these requirements to facilitate smooth transactions and avoid disputes.

3. GST Rates

The standard GST rate for most services is 18%. However, certain services may attract different rates. For instance, construction services for affordable housing projects have a concessional rate of 1%, while construction of roads and bridges is taxed at 5%.

4. Input Tax Credit (ITC)

Contractors are eligible to claim Input Tax Credit (ITC) on GST paid for goods and services used in the course of their business. To avail ITC, contractors must possess valid tax invoices, maintain proper records, and file GST returns on time.

5. Filing GST Returns

Contractors must file GST returns based on their turnover and registration type. The most common returns are GSTR-1 (outward supplies), GSTR-3B (summary return), and GSTR-9 (annual return). The filing frequency can be monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on the contractor's eligibility.

6. Foreign Inward Remittance Certificate (FIRC)

For contractors providing services to international clients, obtaining a Foreign Inward Remittance Certificate (FIRC) is crucial. FIRC serves as proof of receipt of foreign currency and enables contractors to charge 0% GST on the export of services. This provision helps maintain competitiveness in the global market.

Income Tax Compliance

1. PAN and TAN

Contractors must obtain a Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Tax Deduction Account Number (TAN) for income tax purposes. PAN is a unique 10-digit alphanumeric identifier, while TAN is required for deducting tax at source (TDS).

2. Tax Deducted at Source (TDS)

International companies engaging Indian contractors must deduct TDS at the applicable rates and deposit it with the Indian government. The TDS rate for professional services is typically 10%. Contractors must provide their PAN to the deductor and file TDS returns to claim credit for the deducted tax.

3. Filing Income Tax Returns

Contractors are required to report their income and pay taxes annually by filing income tax returns. The due date for filing returns is usually July 31st for individuals and October 31st for companies. Failing to file returns on time can attract penalties and interest.

4. Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA)

India has signed Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) with several countries to prevent double taxation of income. Contractors working for international companies can avail benefits under DTAA, such as reduced tax rates or exemptions, by providing a Tax Residency Certificate (TRC) from their country of residence.

5. Advance Tax

Contractors with an expected tax liability exceeding Rs. 10,000 in a financial year must pay advance tax in four installments. The due dates for advance tax payments are June 15th, September 15th, December 15th, and March 15th. Failure to pay advance tax can result in interest and penalties.

Specifics of Income Tax Applicability for Contractors

1. Income Thresholds

Contractors with an annual turnover not exceeding Rs. 50 lakhs can opt for presumptive taxation under Section 44ADA of the Income Tax Act. Under this scheme, profits are presumed to be 50% of the gross receipts, and tax is calculated accordingly. Alternatively, contractors can choose the new tax regime introduced in the Finance Act, 2020, which offers lower tax rates but with fewer deductions and exemptions.

2. Handling Business Expenses

Contractors can claim deductions for various business expenses such as rent, utilities, travel, and professional fees. Proper documentation, including invoices and receipts, is essential to support these claims during tax assessments. Contractors should maintain accurate records and consult with tax professionals to optimize their tax liabilities.

Key Considerations for International Companies

1. Compliance Verification

International companies must ensure that their Indian contractors are compliant with GST and income tax regulations. Conducting due diligence and verifying compliance status before engaging contractors can mitigate risks and prevent legal issues.

2. Clear Contractual Agreements

Contracts between international companies and Indian contractors should clearly specify tax responsibilities, payment terms, and compliance obligations. Seeking legal advice to draft comprehensive agreements can help avoid disputes and ensure smooth collaboration.

3. Regular Audits

Conducting regular audits of contractors' compliance status is crucial for international companies. Periodic reviews of GST filings, income tax returns, and other compliance documents can help identify and address any discrepancies promptly.

4. Professional Assistance

Engaging the services of experienced tax professionals and consultants can help international companies navigate the complexities of Indian tax regulations. These experts can provide guidance on compliance requirements, tax planning strategies, and dispute resolution, ensuring a seamless working relationship with Indian contractors.


Understanding and adhering to GST and income tax compliance is essential for contractors in India working with international companies. By staying informed about registration requirements, invoicing, tax rates, and filing obligations, contractors can ensure smooth operations and avoid legal complications. International companies, on the other hand, must prioritize compliance verification, clear contractual agreements, regular audits, and professional assistance to foster successful collaborations with Indian contractors. As tax regulations evolve, it is crucial for both contractors and international companies to stay updated and seek expert advice when needed. By navigating GST and income tax compliance effectively, businesses can unlock the full potential of India's skilled workforce and contribute to the country's economic growth.