|CORAM:||P. M. Jagtap, Saktijit Dey (JM)|
|CATCH WORDS:||Arms length price, Transfer Pricing|
|DATE:||February 4, 2015 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||February 9, 2015 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|TPO/ DRP's action of reducing the quantum of royalty paid to AE by applying the "benefit test" is surprising and improper|
(i) We are really surprised to see the reasoning of TPO in fixing the ALP of royalty payment at 2%. It is manifest from TPO’s order he has rejected assessee’s TP analysis under TNMM. Further, TPO has mentioned of undertaking an independent analysis under TNMM for selecting comparables and determining ALP. However, even after repeatedly scanning through his order, we failed to find any such analysis being done by him. Similarly, though in para 5.1.1, ld. DRP has observed that TPO has benchmarked intangible transactions by using CUP, but, the order passed by TPO does not support such conclusion. It is an accepted principle of law that TPO has to determine the ALP by adopting any one of the methods prescribed u/s 92C of the Act. Mode and manner of computation of ALP under different methods have been laid down in rule 10B. Even, assuming that TPO has followed CUP method for determining ALP of royalty payment, as held by ld. DRP, it needs to be examined if it is strictly in compliance with statutory provisions. Rule 10B(1)(a) lays down the procedure for determining ALP under CUP method. As per the said provision, TPO at first has to find out the price charged or paid for property transferred or services provided in a comparable uncontrolled transaction, or a number of such transactions. Thereafter, making necessary adjustments to such price, on account of differences between the international transaction and comparable uncontrolled transactions or between the enterprises entering into such transactions, which could materially affect the price in the open market, TPO will determine the ALP. It is patent and obvious from TPO’s order, the determination of ALP at 2% is not at all in conformity with Rule 10B(1)(a). The TPO has not brought even a single comparable to justify arm’s length percentage of royalty at 2% either under CUP or TNMM method. On the contrary, observations made by TPO gives ample scope to conclude that adoption of royalty at 2% is neither on the basis of any approved method nor any reasonable basis. Rather it is on adhoc or estimate basis, hence, not in accordance with statutory provisions. The approach of TPO in estimating royalty at 2% by applying the benefit test, in our view, is not only in complete violation of TP provisions but against the settled principles of law. ITAT, Mumbai Bench in case of M/s Castrol India Ltd. Vs. Additional CITY, ITA No. 1292/Mum/2007 dated 20/12/2013 while examining identical issue of determination of ALP at ‘Nil’ by applying the benefit test;
(ii) It needs reiteration that assessee has benchmarked the royalty payment by bringing comparables both under TNMM as well as CUP. Whereas, TPO has rejected the analysis done by assessee under both the methods without any reasonable basis nor has brought a single comparable to justify ALP of royalty at 2%. Unfortunately, ld. DRP has approached the entire issue in rather mechanical manner without examining whether approach of the TPO is in accordance with statutory mandate. Therefore, determination of ALP of royalty at 2% cannot be supported, hence, deserves to be struck down. Moreover, theory of benefit test applied by TPO also falls flat considering the fact that TPO does not question the necessity of paying royalty but only objects to the quantum. Further, quantum increase in sale with no apparent increase in production, minimal product recalls, low after sales maintenance cost certainly goes to prove assessee’s claim that these could be achieved due to utilization of advanced technical know-how transferred by AE. The TPO has not been able disprove these facts with any sound argument.