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Indian students may get income tax relief in US
February, 22nd 2008

Income tax relief could be in store for US-bound students with New Delhi planning to seek changes in the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement. Indian students have to pay an income tax on earnings from part-time jobs. This is because the India-US tax treaty provides for treatment of Indian students on a par with US nationals without giving a special tax relief.

There is no provision of income-tax exemption for US nationals, with an annual income of up to $7,825 per annum attracting income tax at the rate of 10%. So, Indian students also have to pay income tax on any remuneration they receive as stipend for part-time jobs. Most students who go to US universities usually take up part-time jobs to meet expenses.

The thinking has been prompted by a China-US treaty having a favourable dispensation for the students. Under the China-US tax treaty, income of up to $5,000 per annum by students is tax exempt. The Indian tax authorities may initiate discussions with the US government on this, sources said.Financial assistance from home country is tax exempt under both the tax treaties.

Education being an expensive proposition in the US, it is natural for Indian students to work and earn while they study rather than depend totally on parental funding. With such a large number of Indian students going to the US, I see no reason why they should be on a less favourable footing compared to students from China. The Indian tax authorities should negotiate more favourable terms with their US counterparts, Ernst & Young partner Amitabh Singh said.

Indian students form the largest international students group in US universities. In 2006-07, the number of students was 83,833, 14.4% of the total international students in the country. Asian countries - India, China, South Korea and Japan - comprise 43% of all international students in the US.  

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