Panama Papers’ disclosures now and earlier dealings of Vodafone through Cayman Islands are stories of famous tax havens, which evoke discussions of how tax evasion takes place. These are all direct taxes, mainly corporate tax, and not indirect tax. These are cases of tax planning that come to the fore whenever such disclosures take place.
In the Vodafone case, the Supreme Court held that we have to look at the transaction as a whole and take into consideration various factors such as the duration of time during which the holding structure existed, the period of business operations in India, the generation of taxable revenue in India, and the continuity of business, among others. Considering all these factors, the Supreme Court held that the transaction was genuine and not sham.
The Vodafone judgment has discussed two previous judgments namely McDowell vs Commercial Tax Officer – AIR1986SC649, and the UOI vs Azadi Bachao