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Tax guidelines and regulations for large money transfers into India

Failing to file could land both you and your recipient in tax trouble.

India is the world’s leading remittance recipient, with more than $83.1 billion USD sent from around the world to India in 2019 alone. Knowing the tax implications and how the process works can help give you peace of mind when transferring money there.

Is there tax on money being transferred from abroad to India?

There is no tax on money being transferred from abroad to India when it’s being sent to blood relatives. In general, “blood relatives” — including spouses, children and grandchildren, siblings or in-laws — do not pay tax on any amount that you send. Your recipient also won’t pay tax on any money sent as part of an inheritance or a wedding gift.

However, if you’re sending more than Rs. 50,000 (about R10 000) to someone in India who isn’t a blood relative, they’ll need to report it on their taxes. Any amount of money you send abroad will be reported to the South African Reserve Band (SARB), regardless of how you know them. Also, be aware that individuals are only allowed to transfer up to R1 million per year out of South Africa under THE Single Discretionary Allowance (SDA), and up to R10 million for investment purposes without additional tax requirements.

That said, no matter how you send the money, your recipient could be on the hook for a gift tax if they aren’t a blood relative, as regulated by the Indian Income Tax Act.

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Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

What are the penalties in India if my recipient fails to file?

If you don’t report a transfer on your taxes in India, you could be charged a 10%, 50% or 200% penalty on the taxes owed, depending on whether it was considered intentional or not.

With so much attention on money entering and leaving India, if you fail to report large sums, don’t know you have to report them or don’t report them correctly, it will likely be discovered. Make sure to declare any large remittance as income on your general tax return with the Indian Income Tax Department.

To avoid the severe penalties that could come with a failure to report large sums of money into the country, speak with a professional to guarantee that everything complies with the laws of both South Africa and India.

Do I have to report large transfers out of South Africa?

Yes — though most legitimate transfer services will automatically do this for you anyway. Gifts over R10,000, business transactions, and any foreign account or trust in your name that’s earned returns will need to be reported on your taxes.

By law, banks report all cash transactions — and any transaction of any amount that alerts their suspicions. Money transfer businesses, which often solely send money between countries, will report any transfers to the SARB as well.

How will my recipient in India get the money?

Your recipient can pick up the cash in person or have the money deposited directly into their bank account or mobile wallet. Not every provider will offer all three options, so check before initiating a transfer.

In general, your recipient will provide ID or a confirmation number for the transaction to pick up the money in cash.
How to send money to India

Bottom line

If you’re sending money to a blood relative in India, they won’t have to worry about taxes — but if you’re sending money to a friend, they’ll need to report anything over ₹50,000 as income.

As with all international money transfers, be wary of potential fraud and only send money to people you know. Using a reputable provider can safeguard you from potential scams.

Frequently asked questions

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