Tax in Sri Lanka

D. L. & F. De Saram

D. L. & F. De Saram has a first-rate tax practice that advises on many aspects of tax including direct and indirect tax advisory and compliance work, such as advising on tax incentives and exemptions for investors. It also routinely advises on tax efficient transaction structuring and international tax matters as well as tax litigation. Savantha De Saram; Prabash De Saram and Aloka Nandasena head the department.; Hansi Abayaratne is a new promotion to the partnership and managing associate Inshira Hanifa  is another important member of the team.

Other key lawyers:

Hansi Abayaratne; Inshira Hanifa

Testimonials

‘This team is corporative and understands the issues in hand. Very proactive. I feel that the individuals provide an excellent service and focus on the right outcomes’.

The team has well-rounded capabilities that allow a client take advantage of a one-stop shop for legal requirements. The teams are very responsive, and provide up to date information on any query raised‘.

We have worked closely with Aloka Nanadasena, Inshira Hanifa and Hansi Abeyratne. The three individuals have provided us with several legal clarifications and advice under tight deadlines in several occasions. Their inputs have greatly helped us respond to our client requests promptly and to complete projects in a timely manner‘.

‘D.L. & F. De Saram is one of the best and oldest-serving law firms in Sri Lanka. The firm comprises of some of the country’s leading attorneys across various specialisms with expertise, attention to detail and reliability that is second to none‘.

‘Savantha De Saram is a very practical and reliable attorney who is approachable, highly knowledgeable and has given our matters importance no matter how large or small the issue at hand is‘.

‘Aloka Nandasena thoroughly supported and guided me with exploring the transaction and having her as my attorney made the entire process smoother and less daunting. She became not just our attorney but a friend and remains my go-to person for our various legal matters in Sri Lanka‘.

Inshira Hanifa is thoroughly knowledgeable and driven individual who tackled our various  queries in a concise and vigorous manner. She has a bright, promising future ahead of her’.

Key clients

Commerzbank AG

Tesco International Sourcing Limited

CBRE South Asia S (Private) Limited

Thumbsplit Enterprises Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised Commerzbank AG on jurisdiction specific withholding tax liability on interest payments made on sub-participated and risk participated loans and on total return swaps.
  • Advising Tesco International Sourcing Limited on the day to day tax compliance requirements applicable to the local entity and payments made to employees and service providers and changes to the income tax law in Sri Lanka.
  • Advising CBRE South Asia S (Private) Limited on their day-to-day income tax compliance requirements applicable to the local entity and payments made to employees in Sri Lanka.

Nithya Partners

Nithya Partners has developed a strong reputation for its work on various tax structuring matters and for its advice on both direct and indirect taxes in Sri Lanka. The group also garners praise for its litigation practice and has been active in representing clients in tax appeals before the Tax Appeals Commission and the court. Head of department Naomal Goonewardena has a wealth of experience in this area.

Practice head(s):

Naomal Goonewardena

Testimonials

‘The advice has enabled us to frame agreements with a foresight of potential issues that may pop up over time. They are approachable and willing to listen to our views rather than some legal practitioners just try to impose their legal view whether practically applicable or not. They are pragmatic and practical’.

Key clients

Seylan Bank PLC

Kegalle Plantations PLC

Lalan Rubber (Private) Limited

Ceylon Shell Flour (Private) Limited

Richard Pieris Rubber Compounds (Private) Limited

Standard Chartered Bank

McLarens Lubricants (Private) Limited

CIC Agri Business (Private) Limited

People’s Leasing & Finance PLC

Sathosa Motors PLC

Work highlights

  • Representing Seylan Bank PLC in an appeal which is pending before the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal with regard to an assessment which had been issued on the Bank disallowing a certain proportion of its interest expense on the basis that its interest income included a component from Sri Lanka Development Bonds which was exempt from income tax.
  • Representing Kegalle Plantations PLC in an appeal which is pending before the Supreme Court with regard to an assessment which had been issued on the client on the basis that rubber trees do not constitute an unprocessed agricultural product.
  • Representing McLarens Lubricants (Private) Limited in a series of appeals which are pending before the Court of Appeal with regard to assessments did not apply a concessionary tax rate which had been claimed on the basis that the supply of lubricants to ships in international waters constituted an ‘export’.

Tiruchelvam Associates

Tiruchelvam Associates advises an array of foreign and local clients on local and cross-border matters. It is well-versed in all aspects of direct and indirect tax and frequently advises corporates, not-for-profit entities and individuals. Ramani Muttettuwegama  is a key member of the department and has considerable niche expertise in advising not-for-profit organisations on various issues. The group is also well-equipped to advise overseas clients that have a corporate presence in Sri Lanka on double taxation issues and other matters such as the taxation of foreign employees.

Testimonials

‘Key capabilities include sound subject knowledge and the fact that they can be relied upon to provide the appropriate advice at all times. We appreciate the fact that they have specialised partners/teams to handle any legal matter that arises. Their flexibility and availability outside office hours for urgent matters or simply for a bit of advice is much appreciated. Also, appreciate the fact that they provide legal notes free of charge whenever a law is amended.’

‘Ramani Muttettuwegama provides sound legal advice on a variety of tax matters. Her approachability and friendliness even though she is a senior partner and availability via email, WhatsApp/Zoom as well as via telephone at any time is very much appreciated. She is very pleasant to work with and her opinion is very much respected and trusted. She certainly has our best interests at heart’.

TA has a  diverse team. The unique aspect about  the associates and partner at TA is that they always seek to develop relationships with their clients rather than treating clients on their matters on a case-by-case basis.  The keen approach of building relationships helps develop empathy towards clients which strongly supports effective, efficient, and sustainable results for client matters and client’s long-term solution seeking efforts. Ramani Muttettuwegama is one such partner who managed to build empathic relationships with her clients and guide her associates on the same path’.

Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan)

At Neelakandan & Neelakandan (formerly Murugesu & Neelakandan),  Pranavan Neelakandan and Thishya Weragoda frequently advise domestic and international clients on tax structuring, direct and indirect tax matters and on other issues such as double taxation and special exemptions. It is also recommended for its work on contentious tax matters and has substantial experience of representing clients in tax appeals before the Court of Appeal.

Key clients

First Capital Treasuries Limited

Berendina Stichting Trust

Singer (Sri Lanka) PLC

Acuity Partners (Private) Limited

Orient Finance PLC

IWS Investment (Private) Limited

Malwatte Valley Plantation PLC

Softlogic Life Insurance PLC

Illukkumbura Industrial Automation (Private) Limited

Commercial Credit and Finance PLC

Natwealth Securities (Private) Limited

Work highlights

  • Continuing to advise First Capital Treasuries Limited from the time the Tax Appeal was lodged with the Tax Appeals Commission and is now representing it before the Court of Appeal.
  • Advising and representing Softlogic Life Insurance PLC before the Court of Appeal in the contested appeal against the Tax Commission.
  • Continuing to advise Singer (Sri Lanka) PLC on its tax matters and providing an opinion on several tax matters.

Sudath Perera Associates

Sudath Perera Associates fields an excellent team that is led by Sudath Perera. It represents a wide variety of clients from individuals and small businesses to multinational corporations, handling transactional work as well as a myriad of tax disputes. Tax consultant Bandunath Jayaratne is a notable member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Sudath Perera

Other key lawyers:

Bandunath Jayaratne

Testimonials

‘A highly experienced team of tax experts that provide detailed and well considered responses‘.

Reliable and provides timely responses‘.

‘They have in depth knowledge of the tax issues our client was facing and provided a legal memo respecting this in a very timely fashion to cope with our closing timeline. They have flexible fee arrangements and are super responsive and collaborative. We appreciate their expertise and professionalism‘.

‘They are very approachable, responsive and have great legal and commercial knowledge of the sector and local market. They worked efficiently and effectively and helped us navigate through the local law‘.

Key clients

SANOFI LANKA LTD

REED SMITH LLP

LEMURIA (PRIVATE) LIMITED

SHANGDONG RAINBOW AGROSCIENCES CO. LTD

MVM INTERNATIONAL (PRIVATE) LIMITED

FONTERRA BRANDS LANKA (PVT) LTD

SAMSUNG INDIA ELECTRONICS (PRIVATE) LIMITED

NIPPON PAINT LANKA (PRIVATE) LIMITED

QATAR AIRWAYS

AUSTRALIA EDUCATION VICTORIA PTY. LTD

COATS THREAD EXPORTS (PVT) LTD

Work highlights

  • Acting for Sanofi Lanka Ltd in the submission of documentation and an application to the Department of Inland Revenue Sri Lanka to obtain the concessionary tax rate for VRS payments.
  • Filing a statement of estimated tax payable for the year of assessment 2020/2021 as well as the return of income for the year of assessment 2019/2020 on behalf of Shandong Rainbow Agrosciences Co. Ltd