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Everything that you must know about AGR return filing

AGR return filing is a term that has grown notorious in recent times. It has alone put many telecom companies on the verge of extinction. However, many people are still unaware of its importance. Therefore, in this article, we will take a closer look at everything you must know about AGR return filing. Additionally, we will also look into how it has changed in recent times. 

The year 2020 wasn’t a good one for everyone. But none of them suffered the brunt of it more than the telecom sector (and the reason wasn’t COVID 19. )

It was the year that the government of India decided that it is tired of Telecom companies not paying the license fees as it should. Then, the license fee demand came. Those demands were not menial ones. They ranged from hundreds to thousands of Crores. As a result, small telecom companies disappeared and some got on the verge of going extinct. Vodafone is one of them.

The AGR return filing for this company is so high that even after the Supreme Court gave it a 4-year moratorium on its AGR dues, it seems impossible for this telecom giant to survive.

So, what happened? And what changes the government has introduced and how will the future look like for the telecom companies due to AGR return filing? Let us discuss the answer to them with this blog.

 What led to the fight between the DOT and the telecom companies?

License fee. It is a term that the government interpreted differently than telecom companies.

The government of India wanted to include all the revenue telecom companies generate, regardless of where they come from to calculate the license fee.

The telecom companies on the other hand only wanted the money they make through their telecom services to be included in the calculation of the license fee.

Neither side was budging. So, it came as a shock to no one when the Department of Telecommunication decided to deride telecom companies for not paying the AGR dues and gave them an ultimatum.

As a result, many telecom companies got lost in oblivion. And others went into survival mode.

But the battle wasn’t lost.

Companies within the telecom sector still had one way to go – the Supreme Court. Hence, they forge ahead and went to the apex judicial body with their woes.

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Introduction of the 4-year Moratorium

Unlike the government, the Supreme Court was willing to listen to reason, Realizing the value the telecom sector holds for the country, it came to a decision – a four-year stay on all license fees. That way, it hoped to:

  1. Give time to telecom companies to accumulate the money for the license fee, and
  2. Afford more time to struggling telcos so that they can innovate their business.

However, it didn’t have much impact.

Companies like Vodafone, one with the outstanding licensee of hundreds of Crores, knew that nothing was done in their favour. They knew that the time was not enough for the company to pay their AGR dues or bring innovations to their telecom services.

Introduction of the AGR

The Adjusted Gross Revenue was the source of all evil as far as telecom companies are concerned. The government calculated the license fee based on this revenue and wasn’t giving any incentives for it.

Therefore, eventually taking a step back, the Department of Telecommunication introduced the concept of ApGR – Applicable Gross Revenue.

What is Applicable Gross Revenue? 

It is revenue that a telecom company generates by exclusively providing telecom services. In the context of AGR Dues, it is the applicable revenue that the DOT implements to calculate the license fees.

ApGR equals Gross revenue minus all the revenue generated by the telecom company through non-telecom means, such as:

  1. Incomes from USO fund, property rent, dividend, and interest
  2. Activities under the permission of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
  3. Insurance claims
  4. Excess provisions written debt
  5. Recovery of bad debts
  6. Capital gains
  7. And, other operations are other than the telecom activities.

Impact of the introduction of APGR

Unlike the four-year moratorium, the introduction of ApGR has brought forth many positive changes in the telecommunication sector. More telecom companies are now open to paying their AGR dues. And, despite the high outstanding returns, they hope that they will have enough savings to innovate their business.


AGR return filing once created a critical solution for the telecommunication sector. But now, it has given the sector time to introspect. We recommend that the telecom stakeholders take this demand as a way to look into the ethics of their business. And then, forge ahead towards a brighter future.

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