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Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT): Eligibility & Calculation of MAT Credit

Updated on: 16 Jan, 2024 05:49 PM

MAT stands for “Minimum Alternate Tax,” which has been introduced to collect tax from companies that have been enjoying tax benefits or tax exemptions despite having huge profits. These companies distribute considerable dividends to shareholders but take advantage of various income tax law provisions, such as exemptions, deductions, etc., to avoid paying taxes. Such companies are basically zero-tax or minimum-tax paying companies. Given an increase in the number of such low tax paying companies, MAT was introduced by the Finance Act, 1987 with effect from the next financial year, i.e., 1988-89. Later on, it was withdrawn by the Finance Act 1990 and then reintroduced by the Finance (No.2) Act 1996, w.e.f, 1-4-1997.

What is Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT?

Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) is applicable to Companies in India. MAT was introduced to address the situation where companies reported book profits in their financial statements but ended up paying little or no income tax due to various exemptions, deductions, and allowances available to them under the Income Tax Act.

The companies have to pay a fixed percentage of their profits as Minimum Alternate Tax. MAT applies to all companies, including foreign companies. MAT is calculated under Section 115JB of the Income-tax Act.

What is the objective of levying MAT?

The government of India has always worked to ensure that no individual or company earning a significant profit gets to avoid the payable income tax. This led to the inception of the Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT). The sole purpose of MAT is to facilitate taxation of the zero / low tax companies by making them pay a minimum amount of direct tax based on their book profits.

The key objectives of MAT are as follows:

  1. Ensuring Minimum Tax Liability: MAT ensures that companies pay a minimum amount of tax, regardless of their tax exemptions and deductions. It prevents the erosion of the tax base and ensures that companies contribute to the nation's tax revenue.
  2. Promoting Equity and Fairness: MAT promotes equity and fairness in the taxation system by reducing the tax advantage enjoyed by companies that may have significant book profits but are able to minimize their taxable income through various means. It ensures that companies, irrespective of their tax planning strategies, make a reasonable contribution towards their tax liability.
  3. Encouraging Transparency and Accountability: MAT enhances transparency and accountability in financial reporting by requiring companies to compute their tax liability based on their book profits. This helps in aligning the reported profits with the taxable income, reducing the scope for manipulation or avoidance of taxes.
  4. Encouraging Profitable Companies to Contribute: MAT discourages companies from distributing profits as dividends without paying a reasonable income tax. It encourages profitable companies to contribute to the tax revenue by ensuring that they pay a minimum amount of tax.

What is book Profit and its Calculation under MAT?

Book Profit can be the total or net profit in a profit & loss account for a particular year. It is calculated as per the guidelines of the Companies Act 2013. There are various factors on which book profit depends, generally known as adjustments. There are two types of adjustments: positive adjustments and negative adjustments.

Positive Adjustments: These are the amounts to be added to the profit & loss account. Some positive adjustments include:

  1. Income Tax payable or paid and the provision thereof, calculated as per the Income Tax Act.
  2. Amount transferred to any reserve by whatever name called (Other than reserve specified under Section 33AC)
  3. Provision for bad debts and liabilities other than ascertained liabilities.
  4. Amount of dividend paid or proposed.
  5. The amount representing a notional loss.
  6. Amount of depreciation.
  7. Provision for loss of Subsidiary Companies.
  8. Depreciation, including depreciation on account of revaluation of assets.
  9. Amount of any expenses relating to exempt income under sections 10,11,12 (except sec 10(38). This means long-term capital gain exemption under section 10(38) is subject to MAT.
  10. Provision made for diminution in the value of an asset.
  11. The amount of expenditure related to income, being a share of the assessee in the income of an association of persons or body of individuals, on which no income tax is payable in accordance with the provision of section 86.
  12. The amounts of expenditure relatable to income accruing or arising to a taxpayer being a foreign company from (a) the capital gains transactions in securities; or (b) the interest, royalty, or fees for technical services chargeable to tax at the rate or rates specified in Chapter XII if the income-tax payable on above income is less than the rate of MAT
  13. The amount of deferred tax and provision therefor.
  14. The amount of expenditure relatable to income by way of royalty in respect of patent chargeable to tax under section 115BBF.
  15. The amount standing in the revaluation reserve relating to the revalued assets on the retirement or disposal of such assets if such amount is not credited to the profit and loss account.

In Union Budget 2018, the government announced the Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT) exemption for companies whose case is already being taken up under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. For the said companies amount of unabsorbed depreciation and carry forward loss is allowed to be reduced from Book Profit.

Negative Adjustments: These are the amounts to be deducted from the net profit. Some negative adjustments can be:

  • The amount withdrawn from any reserve or provision.
  • The amount of deferred tax.
  • Depreciation excluding the depreciation on revaluation of assets
  • Amount of income relating to an exemption under section 10,11,12 (except under section 10(38))
  • The amount of income relatable to income by way of royalty regarding patent chargeable to tax under section 115BBF.
  • The amount of notional gain.
  • The amount of income, being the share of the taxpayer in the income of an association of persons or body of individuals, on which no income tax is payable in accordance with the provisions of section 86, if any such amount is credited to the statement of profit and loss
  • The amount of income accruing or arising to a taxpayer being a foreign company from (a) the capital gains transactions in securities; or (b) the interest, royalty, or fees for technical services chargeable to tax at the rate or rates specified in Chapter XII, if such income is credited to the statement of profit and loss and the income-tax payable on above income, is less than the rate of MAT
  • The amount withdrawn from the revaluation reserve and credited to the statement of profit and loss to the extent it does not exceed the amount of depreciation on the revaluation of assets
  • A sick industrial company's profits until its net worth become zero/positive
  • The amount of loss brought forward or unabsorbed depreciation, whichever is less as per books of account (in case of a company other than the company undergoing insolvency proceedings)
  • The aggregate amount of Unabsorbed depreciation and losses brought forward(excluding unabsorbed depreciation) shall be allowed to be reduced from the book profits if a company’s application for corporate insolvency resolution process under IBC,2016 has been admitted by AA

Calculation of MAT as per Section 115JB

There are specific provisions under the Income Tax Act 1961, under which the MAT is collected from every company. It is calculated under section 115JB of the Income Tax Act.

MAT is calculated at the rate of 15% (plus surcharge and HEC as applicable)of the book profit of the taxpayer, and as per section 115JB of the income tax act, book profit is calculated.

For calculating the tax outflow of the company, first, the tax must be calculated as per the normal provisions under the Income Tax Act. Later it needs to be compared with Tax computed @ 15% (plus surcharge and cess as applicable) on the book profit. This is known as MAT After the said comparison, the highest tax liability must be paid by the company.

MAT rate for a unit of International Financial Services Center [Section 115JB(7)]:

Any unit of an international Financial Services Centre shall be levied @ 9% (plus surcharge and cess as applicable), provided it is deriving its income solely in convertible foreign exchange.

Applicability & Non-Applicability of MAT

As per section 115JB, every company registered in India is liable to pay MAT. Not only the company has to pay advanced Tax, but in case of hiding the income, the respective company shall be penalized. Previously, when MAT was introduced, it did not apply to the companies earning profit in Special Economic Zones (SEZs), but later in the year 2011, the laws were amended, and it included all such companies operating in SEZs. Every company is required to furnish a report from a certified chartered accountant stating that the book profit has been calculated under the provisions of Section 115JB.

Provisions of Section 115JB are not applicable if

  • Any income that is earned through the life insurance business. [Section 115JB(5A)]
  • Any shipping income liable to tonnage taxation.
  • A person is a resident of a country, or a specified territory with which India has an agreement referred to in section 90(1) and the person does not have a permanent establishment in India in accordance with the provisions of such contract.
  • A person is a resident of a country with which India does not have an agreement, and the person is not needed to seek registration under any law for the time being in power relating to the companies.

MAT Credit

When a company is liable to pay a tax under the MAT instead of regular income tax, the company is allowed to claim a credit of MAT paid over the regular Tax. According to the provision in section 115JAA, the company can carry forward and adjust the MAT credit in subsequent years.

  • MAT Credit is the amount of the difference between the MAT amount paid and the amount payable under normal tax. When the tax is paid on the standard computation of a company’s income, it is known as normal tax.
  • Previously the MAT credit was allowed to carry forward for a period of 10 years, but from AY 2018-19, it can be carried forward for 15 assessment years.
  • MAT credit is allowed to Set Off when tax is paid on the regular income under the provisions of income tax instead of MAT. Set off is granted to the amount of difference between the tax on the total income and tax which would have been payable as per MAT under section 115JB.
  • No interest is paid on the MAT credit to the company.

MAT Credit Calculations

If a Company, XYZ Ltd has the taxable income as per normal provisions of the Income Tax Act as Rs. 50 lakhs and Book profits of Rs. 120 lakhs for the FY 2022-23. Then the tax payable would be higher of the two:

Tax on Income: 30% on Rs. 50,00,000 = Rs. 15,00,000
Tax liability as per MAT:15% [The MAT rate has been reduced to 15% from FY 19-20] on Rs. 120,00,000 = Rs. 18,00,000
Thus, the tax paid by the company would be Rs. Rs. 18,00,000
(Higher of the two)
MAT Credit: 1800000-15,00,000
= Rs. 3,00,000
This credit would be carried forward to FY 2023-24 for XYZ Ltd.

TAX Credit Set Adjustments: MAT Credit adjustments or set-offs can be trickier at times, let us understand with an illustration.

Assessment Year Tax Payable under MAT Tax Payable as per normal provisions Actual Tax payable Cash Outflow Tax Credit Available u/s 115JAA Tax Credit Set off/ adjusted Total Tax Credit Available
2013-14 9,00,000 6,00,000 9,00,000 9,00,000 3,00,000 - 3,00,000
2014-15 10,00,000 8,00,000 10,00,000 10,00,000 2,00,000 - 5,00,000
2015-16 11,00,000 7,50,000 11,00,000 11,00,000 3,50,000 - 8,50,000
2016-17 8,00,000 10,00,000 10,00,000 8,00,000* - 2,00,000 6,50,000
2017-18 6,00,000 10,50,000 10,50,000 6,00,000* - 4,50,000 2,00,000

*The difference amount is adjusted from previous year MAT credit available.

This MAT credit set off is allowed only if the tax payable as per normal provisions is higher than the tax payable under MAT and also to the extent of the difference between these two. This credit is only allowed for 15 years, and if the credit is still available after 15 years, it will lapse.

Are MAT & AMT the Same?

People often get confused between MAT and AMT. When we discuss the tax levy the fundamental question arises, Are these two terminologies the same? The answer is NO. MAT and AMT are not the same. MAT, as we have already discussed, is “Minimum Alternative Tax” and AMT stands for “Alternative Minimum Tax”.
Previously the concept of MAT was introduced only for companies, but over time it has been made applicable to all taxpayers in the form of AMT. The primary difference between MAT and AMT is that MAT is levied on companies while AMT is levied on Individual, HUF, AOP, BOI (whether incorporated or not ), and Artificial Judicial Persons having the Adjusted Total Income exceeding Rs 20 Lakhs
In simpler words, MAT is applicable only on corporate taxpayers, whereas AMT is applicable to non-corporate taxpayers. AMT is applicable to every individual who has claimed deductions from Section 80H to 80RRB (excluding Section 80P) along with Section 35AD and Section 10AA.
Further, MAT is calculated on the book profit computed as per Explanation 1 to Section 115JB. AMT is calculated on the book profit computed as per the provisions of Section 28 to 43D (i.e. normal business income). The motive behind the introduction of both is same i.e. to collect the tax by the assessee or a company who are avoiding the tax despite earning a substantial profit.

Infrastructure Sector Exempted from MAT

Foreign investors have always debate the fact that in terms of corporate tax, India has one of the highest tax rate countries in the world. A foreign company conducting business referred in section 40B, 40BB, 40BBA, and 40BBB has to pay a defined tax percentage on the book profit in terms of MAT, which makes it hard for them to do business in India.

In Finance Act, 2016, it was stated that MAT would not be applicable to the organizations under foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and foreign portfolio investors (FPIs). These were exempted as they generally do not have a place of business here in India.

But, with the inclusion of Union Budget 2018-19, it has been made clear that a foreign company in the specified infrastructure sector which operates in the country with the permanent establishment (PE) which are under Section 44BB, would not have to give MAT. They just have to pay only a certain percentage of presumptive tax on their total operations. With this new tax bracket and exemption of MAT, many companies in the drilling market like Halliburton and Schlumberger, shipping lines like MSC Mediterranean and Mitsui OSK Lines, or airlines like British Airways are totally exempted from MAT. The step was taken so as to increase foreign business in India.

Relaxed MAT Norms for Companies Facing Liquidity

Companies that are facing liquidity will be allowed some rebate on the amounts of book profit while calculating Minimum Alternative Tax. In the Financial Bill 2018, it was made clear that the rules for MAT for insolvent companies have been eased out completely. An Insolvent company is one that is not able to pay its debts under the law.

This relaxation was given to make Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 more effective and efficient. The companies which are in loss may not be paying taxes, but with MAT being applicable to them, there was some payout as tax, thereby impacting their financial position. With relaxed MAT norms, these companies will have the option to get a reduction on the total amount of unabsorbed depreciation and loss brought forward (excluding unabsorbed depreciation). It will eventually help all those Companies which are facing financial difficulty.

To put it simply, the introduction of MAT has led to the elimination of zero-tax practices by giant corporations. Also, it has played a significant role in promoting fair tax provisions for foreign, SEZ, and insolvent companies. So, if we see the bigger picture, the Minimum Alternative Tax is a step toward India’s fiscal growth. And therefore, every additional amendment made to this tax law would favor India’s economic development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q- What is MAT?

MAT stands for Minimum Alternate Tax. It is a tax provision in India that requires companies to pay a minimum amount of tax based on their book profits, regardless of the tax exemptions and deductions they may have claimed.

Q- How is the tax liability calculated under MAT?

The tax liability under MAT is calculated based on the book profits of the company . The book profits are adjusted for certain specified items as per the Income Tax Act, and the resulting amount is subject to tax at the applicable MAT rate.

Q- What is the rate of tax under MAT?

The tax rate is 15% from FY 2019-20 i.e. AY 2020-21.

Q- Is MAT applicable to all companies?

No, MAT is applicable to companies Small companies and certain specified entities engaged in specific industries or activities may be exempt from MAT.

Q- Can MAT credit be carried forward?

Yes, MAT credit can be carried forward for a period of 15 years from the year in which it is generated. The credit can be set off against the regular tax liability in subsequent years when the tax liability under the regular provisions of the Income Tax Act exceeds the MAT liability.

Q- Are there any exemptions or deductions available under MAT?

No, under MAT, companies are not allowed to claim certain exemptions, deductions, or allowances that are otherwise available under the regular provisions of the Income Tax Act.

Q- Are foreign companies or LLPs subject to MAT?

MAT is applicable to foreign companies that have a place of business or earn income from a source in India.

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CA Abhishek Soni
CA Abhishek Soni

Abhishek Soni is a Chartered Accountant by profession & entrepreneur by passion. He is the co-founder & CEO of Tax2win is amongst the top 25 emerging startups of Asia and authorized ERI by the Income Tax Department. In the past, he worked in EY and comes with wide industry experience from telecom, retail to manufacturing to entertainment where he has handled various national and international assignments.