Friday, June 26, 2015

Mumbai ITAT interprets Article 5 of India-Singapore DTAA to decide constitution of installation PE in India

Facts:
a)  The assessee was tax resident of Singapore. It had undertaken installation and construction activity in respect of certain projects. The DRP held that the presence of assessee in India in excess of90 days constitutes PE in India under Article 5(6) of India-Singapore DTAA (‘treaty’).
b) The Ld. Counsel of assessee submitted that assessee was purely into installation and construction activity, which would clearly fall within Article 5(3) of treaty. Thus, activities of assessee would not constitute PE due to its presence in India for less than 183 days under Article 5(3) of DTAA.
The Tribunal held in favour of assessee as under:
1)  Article 5(3) of DTAA provides that -
A building site or construction, installation or assembly project constitutes a permanent establishment only if it continues for a period of more than 183 days in any financial year.
2)  Article 5(6) of DTAA provides that -
An enterprise shall be deemed to have a permanent establishment in a contracting State if it furnishes services , other than services referred to in paragraphs 4 and 5 of this Article and technical services as define in Article 12, within a contracting State through employees or other personnel, but only if…..
…..”
3)  Article 5(3) is a specific provision dealing with ‘Service PE’, on account of construction, installation or assembly project. Service PE would constitute if project continues for a period of more than 183 days in any fiscal year. WhereasArticle 5(6) envisages that, if an enterprise is “furnishing services” in the contracting State through its employees for a period of 90 days or more, then it is deemed to have Service PE, except for the services referred to in paras 4 and 5.
4)  The threshold period under Article 5(6) is 90 days and more; if such activities are carried out for a related enterprise, then threshold period is more than 30 days. The Article 5(6) explicitly provides that it applies to “services” other than those covered by Articles 5(4) and 5(5), however, the said article is silent as regards its relationship with Article 5(3). Thus, Article 5(6) covers various services which are not covered by paras 4 and 5 of article 5 and technical services as defined in Article 12.
5)  In contradistinction, para 3 of article 5 is very specific and, therefore, such specific activities cannot be read into para 6 of article 5. There cannot be overlapping of activities carried out within the ambit of Article 5(3) and furnishing of services as stated in Article 5(6). Both should be read independent of each other, or else there would be no requirement of enshrining separate provisions.

6)  If the activities related to construction or installation are specifically covered under Article 5(3), then one need not to go in for Article 5(6). Thus, the activity of the assessee which is purely installation services has to be scrutinized under Article 5(3) only and not under Article 5(6). - Kreuz Subsea Pte. Ltd vs DDIT - 58 taxmann.com 371
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