Monday, February 27, 2017

TPO couldn't apply 'benefit test' while determining ALP of royalty payments: HC

Facts:

a) Assessee had entered into an agreement with its UAE based Associated Enterprise (AE) for payment ofroyalty equivalent to 3% of the net ex-factory sale price of the products on both domestic and export sales.

b) Transfer pricing (TP) study by the assessee in relation to this component was by adoption of Transaction Net Margin Method.

c) Transfer Pricing Officer (TPO) found that substantial expenditure had been incurred by the assessee on advertisement and marketing and it were these efforts which had yielded increased revenue and profit. Thus, he held that assessee had to satisfy the 'benefit test' to justify payment of royalty and as it had failed to do so, royalty payment was pegged at 2% instead of at 3%.

d) On appeal, the Tribunal rejected the application of the 'benefit test' adopted by the TPO. Revenue filed instant appeal before the High Court.

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

1) TPO did not undertake any analysis in fixing the arm's length price of the royalty payment made by the assessee to the AE. TPO had also not adopted any of the methods prescribed under Section 92CA of the Act of 1961, read with Rule 10B of the Income Tax Rules, 1962.

2) TPO determined that the reason for the improvement in the net sales and profit of the assessee was increased marketing along with offer of discounts. Thus, there was no justification for payment of royalty at 3% to the AE by the assessee.

3) This reasoning was without legal basis of law as it was not for the TPO to decide the best business strategy. It was not for the TPO to determine as to what could be the other reasons for increase in the assessee's sales and profit.

4) Therefore, TP additions made on account of royalty payment by reducing rate of payment amounted to an arbitrary and unbridled exercise of power by TPO. - [2017] 78 taxmann.com 230 (Andhra Pradesh)
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