Tax Benefits for Startups in India: Exploring Government Initiatives


Startups play a vital role in driving innovation, job creation, and economic growth in India. Recognizing their significance, the Indian government has implemented various initiatives to support and encourage the startup ecosystem. One key area of focus has been the provision of tax benefits and incentives to alleviate the financial burden on startups. This article aims to explore the tax benefits available to startups in India, including exemptions, deductions, and incentives provided by the government, to facilitate their growth and development.

Tax Benefits for Startups in India
  1. Startup Definition and Recognition: The Indian government has defined startups to qualify for specific benefits. According to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), a startup is an entity up to ten years from its incorporation and whose annual turnover does not exceed INR 100 crore. To avail of tax benefits, startups must obtain recognition from the DPIIT, which provides them with eligibility for various schemes and exemptions.
  2. Income Tax Exemptions: To provide relief to startups in the initial years, the government offers income tax exemptions under the “Startup India” initiative. Eligible startups can enjoy a three-year tax holiday, wherein they are exempted from paying income tax on their profits for the first three consecutive assessment years. This exemption applies to startups recognized by the DPIIT between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2021. It allows startups to allocate their funds towards expansion and innovation during the crucial early stages.
  3. Angel Tax Exemption: Angel tax refers to the tax levied on the excess premium paid by investors while investing in startups. To address concerns and encourage investments in startups, the government has introduced provisions to exempt eligible startups from angel tax. Startups recognized by the DPIIT and meeting certain criteria are exempted from angel tax, provided their aggregate paid-up share capital and share premium after the issue of shares does not exceed INR 25 crore.
  4. Capital Gains Tax Exemption: Capital gains tax can be a significant concern for startups and their investors. To incentivize investments and promote long-term funding, the government offers capital gains tax exemptions under Section 54GB of the Income Tax Act. This exemption applies to individuals or Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs) who invest their capital gains from the sale of residential property into eligible startups. The investment must be made within six months of the sale, and the startup must use the funds for purchasing new assets or expanding its existing business.
  5. Research and Development (R&D) Incentives: Innovation and research are vital for the growth of startups. The government provides incentives in the form of deductions for expenses related to scientific research and development. Startups can claim a deduction of 150% on eligible expenditures incurred on in-house R&D activities. This deduction can be carried forward for a period of up to ten years if not fully utilized.
  6. Tax Benefits for Investors: To encourage investments in startups, the government has introduced various measures to provide tax benefits to investors. Under the “Startup India” initiative, investments made by eligible investors, known as “eligible startups” or “eligible funds,” are exempted from the provisions of Section 56(2)(viib) of the Income Tax Act. This exemption aims to eliminate the tax burden on the issuance of shares at a premium by startups, making them more attractive for potential investors.


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