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CSR‌ ‌Amendment‌ ‌Rules‌ ‌2021‌

By Mayashree Acharya


Updated on: Apr 14th, 2022


12 min read

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Every company that fulfils the conditions set out under Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 (‘Act’) has to spend at least 2% of their average net profits made during the three previous financial years towards the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the current financial year.

The companies will have to spend on CSR as per the provisions of the Act and the CSR Policy Rules. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) notified the Companies (CSR Policy) Amendment Rules, 2021 (‘Rules’) through a notification dated 22 January 2021. These Rules provide amendments to the Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014. The amendments in the Rules are stated below.

Amendment in Definitions

The following definitions were amended in the Rules:

Administrative overheads 

Administrative overheads mean the company expenses incurred for administration and general management of the CSR functions. However, it will not include the direct expenses incurred for implementing, designing, evaluating, and monitoring a particular CSR project or programme.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)  

CSR means the activities that a company undertakes in accordance with the statutory obligation laid down in Section 135 of the Act and in accordance with the provisions contained in the Rules, but shall not include the following: 

  • Activities undertaken in the normal course of company business. However, a company engaged in the development and research activity of new drugs, vaccines, and medical devices in its normal course of business can undertake the development and research activity of a new drug, vaccine and medical devices relating to COVID-19 for the financial years 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23 subject to the conditions that: 
    • The company shall carry out such development and research activities in collaboration with any of the organisations or institutes mentioned in Schedule VII item (xi) of the Act.
    • The company must disclose the details of the activity separately in the Annual report on CSR included in the report of the Board of Directors (‘Board’).
  • Activities undertaken by a company outside India except for training of Indian sports personnel representing India at the international level or Union or State territory at the national level. 
  • Contribution of any amount indirectly or directly to any political party under section 182 of the Act.
  • Activities benefiting employees of the company defined in Section 2(k) of the Code on Wages, 2019.
  • Activities supported by a company on a sponsorship basis to derive marketing benefits for its services or products.
  • Activities carried out to fulfil other statutory obligations under any law in force in India.

CSR policy 

CSR policy means a statement containing the direction and approach given by the companies’ board, after taking into consideration the recommendations of its CSR committee, and includes implementation and monitoring of activities, guiding principles for selection and formulation of the annual action plan

Net profit  

Net profits mean the net profit of a company according to its financial statement prepared under the applicable provisions of the Act, but it will not include the following: 

  • Any profit arising from overseas branch/branches of the company, whether operated as a separate company or otherwise.
  • Any dividend received from another company in India covered under and complying with Section 135 of the Act.

Ongoing project  

An ongoing project means a multi-year project that a company undertakes to fulfil its CSR obligation within three years, excluding the financial year it was commenced. It will also include projects that were initially not approved as multi-year projects but whose duration is extended beyond one year by the board based on reasonable justification. 

CSR Implementation Amendments

The Board should ensure that the CSR activities are undertaken either by the company itself or through:

  • Companies that are established under Section 8 of the Act, or a registered society or registered public trust under Section 12A and 80G respectively of the Income Tax Act, 1961, established by the companies themselves or along with any other company. 
  • Companies that are established under Section 8 of the Act or a registered society or registered trust established by the Central or State Government.
  • Entity established under State legislature or an Act of Parliament. 
  • Companies that are established under Section 8 of the Act, or a registered public society or registered trust under section 12A and 80G respectively of the Income Tax Act, 1961, and having a track record of at least three years in undertaking similar activities.

The above entities who intend to undertake CSR activity should register themselves with the Central Government by filing the Form CSR-1 with the Registrar, effective from 1 April 2021. The entities must sign and submit form CSR-1 electronically. It should be digitally verified by a Company Secretary, Chartered Accountant or Cost Accountant in practice. 

Upon submitting Form CSR-1 on the MCA portal, the system will automatically generate a unique CSR Registration Number. A company can engage international organisations for monitoring, designing and evaluating the CSR programmes or projects as per its CSR policy and for capacity building of its personnel for CSR. 

The Board of a company should satisfy that the funds disbursed are utilised for the purposes and in the manner as approved by them. The person responsible for financial management or the Chief Financial Officer should certify to the effect. 

In case of any ongoing project, the Board should monitor the implementation of the project in the approved timelines and year-wise allocation. It can make any modifications for smooth implementation of the project within the permissible time.

The CSR Committee should recommend and formulate to the Board, an annual action plan in pursuance of its CSR policy, including the following: 

  • List of the approved CSR programmes or projects to be undertaken in subjects or areas specified in Schedule VII of the Act. 
  • Manner of execution of the CSR programmes or projects specified in these Rules.
  • Modalities of implementation schedules and utilisation of funds for the projects or programmes.
  • Reporting and monitoring mechanism for the projects or programmes.
  • Details of impact and any need assessment for the projects undertaken by the company.

CSR Expenditure Amendments

The Board of a company must ensure that the administrative overheads will not exceed 5% of the company’s total CSR expenditure for the respective financial year. The surplus arising out of the CSR activities will not form part of the business profit of a company and shall be transferred to the Unspent CSR Account or ploughed back into the same project.

The company should spend the unspent CSR amount in pursuance of the annual action plan, the CSR policy of the company or transferred to a Fund specified in Schedule VII within six months of the expiry of the financial year. 

Where a company spends an amount above the requirement provided under Section 135(5) of the Act, the company can set off such excess amount up to the immediate succeeding three financial years. However, the excess amount available for set-off should not include the surplus arising out of the CSR activities in pursuance of these Rules, and the Board should pass a resolution to that effect.

A company can spend the CSR amount for the acquisition or creation of a capital asset held by 

  • Companies that are established under section 8 of the Act, or a Registered Society Or Registered Public Trust having charitable objects and CSR Registration Number 
  • Beneficiaries of the CSR project, in the form of collectives, self-help groups, entities
  • Public authority

CSR Reporting Amendments

The Board report covered under the Rules relating to any financial year should include an annual report on CSR having the particulars specified in Annexure I or Annexure II, as applicable. 

In the case of a foreign company, the balance sheet filed under section 381(1)(b) of the Act should contain an annual report on CSR containing particulars specified in Annexure I or Annexure II, as applicable. 

Every company with an average CSR obligation of Rs.10 crore or more should undertake impact assessment through an independent agency for the CSR projects with outlays of Rs.1 crore or more and completed within one year of undertaking the impact study.  

The impact assessment reports should be placed before the Board and annexed to the annual report on CSR. A company undertaking impact assessment can book the expenditure towards CSR for that financial year, which should not exceed 5% of the total CSR expenditure for that respective financial year or Rs.50 lakh, whichever is less. 

Display of CSR activities on Websites

The Board of Directors should mandatorily disclose the CSR Policy and Projects approved by the Board and composition of the CSR Committee on their website, if any, for public access. 

Amendment in Transfer of Unspent CSR Amount

The unspent CSR amount, if any, should be transferred by the company to any fund included in schedule VII of the Act until a fund is specified in Schedule VII in pursuance of Section 135(5) and Section 135(6) of the Act.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the Companies (CSR Policy) Amendment Rules, 2021 retrospective? 

Generally, the amendments are not retrospective. However, it does not mean the amendments will not affect matters or things done in FY 20-21. For example, any shortfall of spending in FY 2020-21 may be covered by the amendments. Further, there is a strong view that even the impact assessment may be required for CSR projects undertaken in earlier years.

Can the company undertake a CSR project abandoned by the implementing agency as a new ongoing project? 

The company Board can include a project undertaken and abandoned by the implementing agency due to lack of additional funds as a multi-year project based on reasonable justification. Further, the Board can also alter the annual action plan for the project at any time during the financial year as per the recommendation of the CSR committee based on reasonable justification.

When will an ongoing project be considered as commenced? 

An ongoing project is considered as commenced when concrete steps are taken towards such a project. However, the requirement of spending on the project is not necessary when the company has undertaken a binding commitment towards such a project.

What are the methods of implementing CSR activities as per the Companies (CSR Policy) Amendment Rules?

As per Rule 4 of the Rules, a company can undertake CSR activities through the following three modes of implementation:

  • Self-implementation
  • Joint implementation with one or more companies
  • Implementation through eligible implementing agencies
Can the impact assessment be done through an international organisation?

Yes. Impact assessment study needs to be done by an independent agency and there is no restriction that an international organisation cannot be appointed.

Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are solely for information purposes. No attorney-client relationship is created when you access or use the site or the materials. The information presented on this site does not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your state.

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