No penalty under Expl 7 to s. 271(1)(c) for dispute regarding ALP method
The assessee adopted the TNMM to determine the ALP in respect of the broking transactions entered into with its affiliates. The AO & TPO held that the assessee ought to have adopted the CUP method and made an adjustment of Rs. 1.10 crores. This was accepted by the assessee. The AO levied penalty under Explanation 1 to s. 271(1)(c) on the ground that the assessee had filed inaccurate particulars of income. This was deleted by the CIT (A). On appeal by the department to the Tribunal, HELD dismissing the appeal:
Explanation 1 to s. 271(1)(c) does not apply to transfer pricing adjustments. Penalty for transfer pricing adjustments is governed by Explanation 7 to s. 271(1)(c). Under Explanation 7 to s. 271(1)(c), the onus on the assessee is only to show that the ALP was computed by the assessee in accordance with the scheme of s. 92 C in “good faith” and with “due diligence”. The assessee adopted the TNMM and no fault was found with the computation of ALP as per that method. Instead, the method was rejected on the ground that CUP method was applicable. It is a contentious issue whether any priority in the methods of determining ALPs exists. So, when TNMM is rejected, without any specific reasons for inapplicability of the TNMM and simply on the ground that a direct method is more appropriate to the fact situation, it is not a fit case for imposition of penalty. The expression ‘good faith’ used alongwith ‘due diligence’, which refers to ‘proper care, means that not only must the action of the assessee be in good faith, i.e. honestly, but also with proper care. An act done with due diligence would mean an act done with as much as care as a prudent person would take in such circumstances. As long as no dishonesty is found in the conduct of the assessee and as long as he has done what a reasonable man would have done in his circumstances, to ensure that the ALP was determined in accordance with the scheme of s. 92 C, deeming fiction under Explanation 7 cannot be invoked.