Monday, February 27, 2017

No FTS when global telecom facility provided to shipping agents helped them to discharge their functions

Facts:

a) The foreign shipping company had 3 agents in India who were acting as clearing agents.

b) In order to help agents, assessee had set up and was maintaining a global telecommunication facility called “Maersk Net”. Agents were paying for said facility on pro-rata basis to the assessee.

The issue before the Supreme Court was as under:

Whether the income from the use of Global Telecommunication Facility called 'Maersk Net' can be classified as fees for technical services?

The Supreme Court held in favour of assessee as under:-

1) “Maersk Net” was a facility which enables the agents to access several information like tracking of cargo of a customer, transportation schedule, customer information, documentation system and several other information.

2) Maersk Net System was an integral part of the shipping business which was allowed to be used by agents in order to enable them to discharge their role more effectively.

3) Neither the AO nor the CIT (A) had stated that there was any profit element embedded in the payments received by the assessee from its agents in India.

4) It was in the nature of reimbursement of cost whereby the three agents paid their proportionate share of the expenses incurred on these said systems and for maintaining those systems.

5) Therefore, payments made by the agents for use of that Maersk Net System could not be treated as “Fees for Technical Services”. - [2017] 78 taxmann.com 287 (SC)
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