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I have a couple of friends whose debit cards do not work on international sites (outside India in USD or CNY). I have used my debit card few times to purchase items (total value around INR 30k) for them on international sites. They then transfer INR to my bank account.

How much legal is this?
What documents should I keep in case of any scrutiny?
Is there a limit on how much money can be transferred that way
or is it totally illegal
or is it legal as far as I keep it documented?

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Some aspect is legal some in grey area. Please maintain proper documentation. Generally for amounts in question, there is less scrutiny from Income tax.

Buying on behalf of your friends... First there is a limit of 250,000 USD, so fine on this point. Second is only licensed dealers can participate in FX. In your case, it can appear that you are acting as dealer.

On getting money back, this looks like gift and if it's more than 50,000 in a year it is taxable. Of course if you establish that it was convenience then no issues.

So you need good amount of documentation, plus if you are getting paid after few months, tax can treat this as personal loan and arrive at deemed interest.

Edits:
There is no guideline as to what the income tax will ask you, if there is a scrutiny. One would need to have paper work, a letter from friend requesting you to purchase things. You would have to keep a record of items ordered and match it with credit card statement. Proof that the goods were delivered to his address. Proof of equivalent credit entry from your friend into your bank statement. Reason why your friend could not do this himself. i.e. what is stopping him from getting a international debit/credit card?

So if you think you can convince that its convenience, yes, else taxes.

  • One of that friend is asking me again to buy some things. The total value of purchase will rise above 50,000. Are you saying if I can establish this as convenience, there is no tax? How can I establish something as convenience? – 1pratham Sep 20 '16 at 5:54
  • @1pratham Yes if you can establish. – Dheer Sep 20 '16 at 6:42

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