Partner Sudipta Bhattacharjee leads tax practice at Advaita Legal. It is a boutique law firm set up in 2014. Its practice covers indirect tax, customs and international trade and direct tax litigation. It also takes advantage of administrative and constitutional law principles in tax litigations to deal with tax issues.
One recent matter the team advised on sees it continuing to act for the Indian Bank Association, Kotak Bank and 12 other private, public and foreign banks in connection with an ongoing indirect tax litigation worth approximately $8.8 billion, one of the biggest cases of the recent past. Another key work example sees the team assisting India Coke and Power in an ongoing litigation challenging the constitutional validity of a levy of GST on ocean freight services rendered by a foreign entity to another foreign entity located outside India.
Accounting firm AKM Global provides various tax practices such as direct and indirect tax, tax dispute resolution and transaction advisory. It mainly focuses on dealing with cross-border transactions and works with both companies and individuals having cross-border issues. Multinationals and foreign nationals make up approximately 95% of its client base. It is a member of the Leading Edge Alliance and TPA Global.
A recent example of the firm’s work saw it assisting a tech startup in relation to transactional tax matters, advising on the cross-border aspects of the matter between India and Singapore. Another saw a team led by Amit Maheshwari, Sandeep Sehgal and Chetna Chaudhary acting for Karak Enterprises on a matter regarding the Indian tax implications for an overseas customer whether directly or indirectly.
One notable addition to the team during the research period saw tax manager Toshiba Garg join from Ashok Dhingra & Associates
Amicus-Advocates & Solicitors was established by Ashutosh Mohan Rastogi in August 2011 as a boutique transfer pricing practice. It has since expanded to become a full-service law firm with five partners and 20 other fee earners, covering all areas of taxation including from direct tax, international tax, transfer pricing and GST.
One recent example of the firm’s work saw it securing a stay order from the tax tribunal for client Cinestaan Entertainment in response to the rejection of a fair market value assessment, on which equity shares were issued at premium. Another saw the team acting for Renus Creations, a garment retail outlet chain, in successfully quashing the entire demand and addition made by assessing officer on the assessee.
“Great team and very supportive. They work as an extension to our organisation. Excellent clarity on the subject matter and amazing teamwork.”
Ajay Bahl is the head of the tax department at AZB & Partners. He focuses on tax advisory, corporate advisory and M&A for both domestic and international clients. Deepak Chopra leads tax litigation team. He has more than 30 years of experience in tax advisory and litigation areas. The team provides practices including advisory, tax litigation, corporation tax planning and international tax. In addition, it works with other teams such as IP and competition law in order to ensure a holistic approach to the tax practice.
Recent examples of the firm’s work have seen it successfully arguing cases for clients such as Vodafone Idea, Nokia India and Honda Cars India in matters before the Delhi High Court.
Two notable departures from the team this year saw senior partner Sunil Agarwal leave to take up a role as a senior standing counsel at the income tax department in the High Court of Delhi, and fellow senior partner Ravi Prakash leave to set up an independent practice.
The India branch of international firm BDO has a significant footprint in the country, with more than 2,800 operating in offices in 10 cities nationwide. Led by managing partner Milind Kothari, the tax practice has more than 30 partners whose backgrounds cover corporate tax, international tax, transactional tax, transfer pricing, expatriate tax, GST, customs and international trade, corporate laws, capital markets and regulatory.
One example of the firm’s work during the research period saw it advising an engineering group in relation to the restructuring of group entities to distribute surplus funds in a tax-efficient manner to certain shareholders. Another saw a team led by Jiger Saiya acting for the Indian liaison office of an international group in relation to the tax implications of closing that office in favour of setting up various holding entities, both domestic and foreign.
There were a number of notable changes to the team during the research period. This included the addition of a team from EY that included three partners, as well as several individual new names from other firms.
“We are happy with their work.”
Deloitte. Its practice covers indirect tax, M&A, international tax and business taxation. Currently, the team is focused on industries schools, business simulations and community of practice activities to drive client growth.
One recent example of the firm’s work saw it providing tax structuring and advocacy support to a leading France-headquartered aerospace and defence group. It also recently provided advisory and representation services in relation to the clubbing of multiple advance authorisations for a French multinational operating in transport systems.
The group expanded its presence in the country during the research period with eight senior professionals (partners and directors).
Dhruva Advisors has a network that covers nine offices spread across four countries. It was founded in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad in 2014 and is now home to more than 320 practitioners. It provides a large tax practice in areas such as domestic and cross-border taxation, M&A and indirect tax. It has now set up several offices in various places including Delhi, Singapore and New York. Its clients include groups in areas such as energy and resources, education and the financial services sector.
The team recently represented Mauritius-based group Indostar Capital in obtaining a favourable order from the High Court in respect of writ petition filed against an adverse tax withholding order. It also advised Sheorey Digital Systems in relation to the tax aspects of a selective capital reduction from two sets of shareholders, at differential pricing.
Key professionals at Economic Laws Practice include Rohit Jain, Nishant Shah and Harsh Shah. Its practice covers both indirect and direct taxes involving the entire spectrum of transactional, advisory and litigation work. It provides litigation assistance and represents clients in both adjudication and appellate proceedings. It also represents clients in various forums including the Dispute Resolution Panel, the Authority for Advance Rulings and the Supreme Court of India.
The firm recently advised a group of clients in connection with challenging a retrospective amendment to Section 140 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017. Another recent example of its work sees it continuing to act for The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council drafting detailed documents to be filed with the relevant authorities, seeking appropriate reliefs, as well as representing the client in the course of various meetings with the authorities.
The team welcomed a new partner to the practice when Kumar Visalaksh was re-hired from working in independent practice. At the same time, the firm saw partner Anay Banhatti leave to join DMD Advocates.
“The entire team led by Rohit Jain is extremely professional. They have deep understanding of the technical aspects of tax, but they also know how it works in practical situations. The advice/thoughts/brainstorming provided always helps in finding and maintaining directions, which is much needed for tax litigation/controversies.”
Partner Vandana Shah leads the tax practice at Gaiea Consulting. She has more than 13 years of experience in cross-border taxation, FEMA and allied matters. The team is supported by three other practitioners. It provides various specialised services such as expatriate tax, exchange control regulations, FATCA and CRS. In addition, it advises clients on foreign tax issues. Its services cover such sectors as technology, renewable energy, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing.
Recent examples of the firm’s work include advising a client in the tech startup space on the structuring of foreign inbound investment into the Indian company, as well as working with a client in the oil and gas sector to come up with options for structuring outbound investments on a clean-slate basis.
“Gaiea Consulting are very experienced and knowledgeable. We appreciate their responsiveness and proactiveness.”
“Gaiea Consulting have come across as very professional and knowledgeable partners who can be relied on with even the most critical activities. Their domain expertise is impeccable and their advice is open and practical.”
Grant Thornton provides services covering indirect tax, transactional tax and global mobility services. The firm has 15 office and approximately 175 indirect tax professionals that specialise in compliance, advisory and tax litigation services. The team is led by six partners and three directors. It focuses on dealing with tax advisory and corporate restructuring.
One recent example of the team’s work saw it advising a client in the IT and outsourcing sector on a multimillion dollar GST refund matter, which had been stuck for more than a year due to technical/portal issues that another consulting firm was handling. Another sees it continuing to act for a client in the hospitality space in managing global mobility program for the client.
One recent notable change to the team was the departure of partner Suresh Nandlal Rohira, who headed up the indirect tax practice at the firm, to Dy.
Jairaj Purandare leads tax practice at JMP Advisors. He has more than 30 years of experience in tax and business advisory. He is also an authority on tax and regulation in India. Rajesh Athavale is another key practitioner at firm. He focuses on tax litigation, corporate tax and international tax. The team provides various tax practices such as M&A, GST and high-net-worth family services.
Recent work highlights include acting for a high net worth individual with a very strong reputation in his relevant industry on the taxability and withholding tax implications on perquisites and payouts and assisting a global reinsurance company in obtaining a lower withholding tax certificate for a foreign reinsurance company.
“They provide personalised attention equipped with an expert domain partner and a quick response.”
“They had provided us very satisfactory services. They are knowledgeable in tax field.”
“Very collaborative and transparent. Detailed and consistent structure of engagement. Strong understanding and articulation of markets and the financial landscape.”
“Their strength is strong subject-matter expertise at the senior management level.”
Khaitan & Co provides services including both direct tax and indirect tax. The team is comprised of lawyers and accountants that provide business-oriented, actionable advice for clients. It offers such practices as deal structuring, transaction documentation and tax negotiations in M&A. Its client base covers large Indian business houses and high-net-worth individuals, insurers, PE houses and funds. In addition, it also works closely with international law firms across various jurisdictions, helping professionals provide a global understanding of complicated tax matters involved in inbound and outbound structuring issues.
The firm recently advised Hardcastle Restaurants and Westlife Development, Master Franchisees of McDonald’s with more than 300 restaurants across 42 cities and 11 states in West and South India, on all income-tax related aspects concerning a group business restructuring. It also advised the promoters of Metropolis in relation to the income tax implications arising from the offer for sale and also advised the client on the exit of existing private equity investor Carlyle in its IPO.
“Khaitan & Co was excellent throughout. They were able to explain complex matters to legal laymen like us clearly and concisely, with an informed analysis of the pros and cons of choices and options. Vinita Krishan, Stuti Galiya, and Rabindra Jhunjhunwala stood out, but everyone we interacted with was thoroughly professional. In the process, Khaitan was spot on in every assessment, calling out mistakes and misconceptions by the acquirer's law firm as well as the advisor to the acquirer. They also picked up on things that our firm missed. I could not have been more satisfied and I would recommend Khaitan to everyone looking to do acquisition work in India.”
“The overall presentation was good including interactions with the JV partner and their consultants. The entire structuring was handled by a very senior and experienced partner and his team covering all aspects.”
“Very good and satisfied support by the partner in charge.”
“The team is very punctual and work-focused. The advice provided by the team was very crisp and clean.”
“Great Written Submissions and providing results with honesty despite facing an inherently opaque system.”
“The team is always holding our hand, has the complete and blind reliance factor and is always prompt.”
Manging partner Akil Hirani leads the tax practice at firm. Other key practitioners include Ravi Raghavan and Rukshad Davar. It has established a representative office in New York to serve its US Clients. It covers various tax practices such as cross-border tax structuring and tax planning, litigation and indirect tax advice.
One recent example of its work saw it acting for ChargePoint in relation to the tax and regulatory issues around an equity incentive plan that involved a purchase price to be paid by the Indian employees, directors and consultants on the exercise of the options. It also assisted client Sysdig in connection with issues over permanent establishment and employee tax issues related to that.
“They provide Indian tax advice in relation to holding interest in an Indian fund and the exit tax implications, which overall is good.”
The team at Nangia Advisors is led by chairman Rakesh Nangia and has more than 500 professionals working across India. It offers a wide range of taxation, tax litigation, transaction advisory and business consulting services. It has strong expertise in the oil and gas industry in India. It is part of the international Andersen Global network of accounting practices.
One recent example of its work saw it advising Status Mark Finvest on the offshore structure of the investment fund, keeping in view tax considerations under India’s double tax avoidance agreements with Mauritius and United Arab Emirates, as well as India’s foreign investment policy and exchange control regulations.
There were a few changes to the team during the research period. This included the arrival of partners Aravind Srivatsan and Nischal Arora from PwC, alongside partners Nirmal Singh from EY and Anshu Khanna from Grant Thornton. It also saw the departure of partner Rahul Jain, who left the team to take up an in-house role with global conglomerate Halliburton.
Nexdigm (SKP) provides services such as M&A, indirect tax and a high-net-worth individual practice. It recently established a knowledge, solutions and markets function that focuses on knowledge management, esoteric research, preparing position papers and building tax products. Its range of deliverables includes business advisory, transaction support, business process management, corporate services, governance and tax risk management.
The team recently assisted a Turkish shipyard company on the tax implications of a contract it had recently secured to provide support vessels to the Indian Navy. It also advised a manufacturing group already established in India from a tax perspective in connection with the proposed expansion of its operations in the country.
Himanshu Sinha is the head of the tax department at Trilegal. Another key practitioner is Samsuddha Majumder. The team includes lawyers who have experience working in the Big Four and chartered accountants who have international qualifications and experience. Its practice covers both indirect and direct tax.
The team continues to offer significant services to clients, including advising an international oil and gas group on the tax-efficient structuring of its proposed investment in a significant undertaking of a leading MNC headquartered in India.