Jan 22, 2015
(i) The assessee has reported international transaction in its TP report regarding sale to its AE from manufacture of jewellery units and diamond trading unit. The TPO accepted the price charged by the assessee from AE at arm’s length. However, the TPO has made the adjustment on account of notional interest for the excess period allowed by the assessee to AE for realization of dues. The TPO applied 18.816% per annum as arm’s length on the over due amounts of AE. The DRP though concurred with the view of the Assessing Officer/TPO on the issue of international transaction, however, the adjustment was reduced by applying the interest rate of 7% instead of 18.816% applied by the TPO.
(ii) The first issue raised by the assessee is whether the aggregate period extended by the assessee to the AE which is more than the average credit period extended to the non-AE would constitute international transaction.
(iii) We are of the view that after the insertion of explanation to section 92B(1), the payment or deferred payment or receivable or any debt arising during the course of business fall under the expression international transaction as per explanation. Therefore, in view of the expanded meaning of the international transaction as contemplated under clause (i) (e) of explanation to section 92B(1), the delay in realization of dues from the AE in comparison to non-AE would certainly falls in the ambit of international transaction. However, this transaction of allowing the credit period to AE on realization of sale proceeds is not an independent international transaction but it is a closely linked or continuous transaction along with sale transaction to the AE. The credit period allowed to the party depends upon various factors which also includes the price charged by the assessee from purchaser. Therefore, the credit period extended by the assessee to the AE cannot be examined independently but has to be considered along with the main international transaction being sale to the AE. As per Rule 10A(d) if a number of transactions are closely linked or continuous in nature and arising from a continuous transactions of supply of amenity or services the transactions is treated as closely linked transactions for the purpose of transfer pricing and, therefore, the aggregate and clubbing of closely linked transaction are permitted under said rule. This concept of aggregation of the transaction which is closely linked is also supported by OECD transfer pricing guidelines.
(iv) In order to examine whether the number of transactions are closely linked or continuous so as to aggregate for the purpose of evaluation what is to be considered is that one transaction is follow-on of the earlier transaction and then the subsequent transaction is carried out and dependent wholly or substantially on the earlier transaction. In other words, if two transactions are so closely linked that determination of price of one transaction is dependent on the other transaction then for the purpose of determining the ALP, the closely linked transaction should be aggregated and clubbed together. When the transaction are influenced by each other and particularly in determining the price and profit involved in the transactions then those transactions can safely be regarded as closely linked transactions. In the case in hand the credit period extended to the AE is a direct result of sale transaction. Therefore no question of credit period allowed to the AE for realization of sale proceeds without having sale to AE. The credit period extended to the AE cannot be treated as a transaction stand alone without considering the main transaction of sale. The sale price of the product or service determined between the parties is always influenced by the credit period allowed by the seller. Therefore, the transaction of sale to the AE and credit period allowed in realization of sale proceeds are closely linked as they are inter linked and the terms and conditions of sale as well as the price are determined based on the totality of the transaction and not on individual and separate transaction.
(v) The approach of the TPO and DRP in analyzing the credit period allowed by the assessee to the AE without considering the main international transaction being sale to the AE will give distorted result by disregarding the price charged by the assessee from AE. Though extra period allowed for realization of sale proceeds from the AE is an international transaction, however, for the purpose of determining the ALP, the same has to be clubbed or aggregated with the sale transactions with the AE. Even by considering it as an independent transaction the same has to be compared with the internal CUP available in the shape of the credit allowed by the assessee to non AE. When the assessee is not making any difference for not charging the interest from AE as well as non-AE then the only difference between the two can be considered is the average period allowed along with outstanding amount. If the average period multiplied by the outstanding amount of the AE is at arm’s length in comparison to the average period of realization and multiplied by the outstanding from non AEs then no adjustment can be made being the transaction is at arm’s length. The third aspect of the issue is that the arm’s length interest for making the adjustment. Both the TPO and DRP has taken into consideration the lending rates, however, this is not a transaction of loan or advance to the AE but it is only an excess period allowed for realization of sales proceeds from the AE. Therefore, the arm’s length interest in any case would be the average cost of the total fund available to the assessee and not the rate at which a loan is available.