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Startup India’s lethal nemesis: the angel tax

Imagine you’re starting up. You have a great idea in place, the initial funds, and then it happens: you raise money.

Everything’s swell.

You start working towards making profits, or at least, trying to make profits. You’re in touch with investors to raise another round of money. And suddenly, you’re slapped with a notice from the Income Tax office.

Startups are being questioned on the rationale of ‘loss-making businesses’ being valued at a premium to their net worth. As it is with nascent startups, they have a lot of losses on their books, which means that their net-worth i.e. assets minus liabilities is almost always negative.

Is it fair? Not really.

Most startups that have received notices from the income tax office were confused when the valuation of their business was rejected. The government’s intention is to promote startups, they said; but the income tax notices shook that faith in many entrepreneurs. Where do things go from here? Read to know.

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Funded by the following patrons

Saama Capital

Saama Capital is an early stage, sector agnostic, India-focused venture capital firm investing since 2006. The Saama team is currently investing out of its fourth fund and has built significant knowledge in several sectors including e-commerce , financial services/fintech, and consumer product companies. Previously, Saama has backed a number of India’s leading companies including PayTM, Snapdeal, Sula Wines, Raw Pressery, Veeba Foods, Chaipoint, Moms Company, Tutorvista, AppLabs, MoveInSync, JiffleNow, Vistaar Financial Services, Lendingkart and Fisdom.

DSG Consumer Partners

DSG Consumer Partners is an early stage venture capital fund focused on investing exclusively in consumer brands and businesses in India and South East Asia. Since its inception in 2013, DSGCP has backed over 40 founders and helped build some of the leading insurgent brands including OYO, Veeba, Epigamia Greek Yogurt, Raw Pressery, Chai Point, Eazydiner, SaladStop!, Chope, GOQii, Redmart, Mswipe, The Moms Co, Sleepy Owl Coffee and Goa Brewing Co. DSGCP currently manages $150 million of committed capital and has investment professionals and advisors in Mauritius, Singapore and Mumbai.

V Balakrishnan

Prior to founding Exfinity, Bala served as Head of BPO, Finacle & India Business Unit at Infosys. Bala also served as the Chief Financial Officer of Infosys Ltd., from May 1, 2006 to October 31, 2012. Bala served as Secretary and Senior Vice President - Finance of Infosys Ltd., from joining it in 2001 to April 2006. He was a full-time Director on the Board of Infosys Limited from June 2011 to December 2013. Bala has significant experience in leadership positions in the finance domain, with expertise in Corporate Finance, International Taxation, Risk Management and Mergers & Acquisitions. He has been a recipient of the "Best CFO" award from CNBC and Finance Asia.

Bharanidharan Viswanathan

Bharanidharan Viswanathan is the CEO & Co-founder of 91digital group that boasts of - India’s largest gadget site,,, and Prior to 91mobiles, he was the Co-founder of and Outside of 91mobiles, Bharani is an angel investor betting on new and interesting internet business models. He is an alumnus of Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.

Pre-seed startups can apply for a Patron-funded subscription

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