While an adjustment for working capital investment is required, the transaction of sale of goods and receivables arising therefrom can be aggregated. If the differential impact of working capital has been factored in the pricing of the transaction of sale, no further adjustment can be made.
(ITAT Delhi) April 6, 2015
The Tribunal had to consider whether the AO/DRP is justified in enhancing the income of the assessee on account of notional interest charged on receivables outstanding beyond 180 days. HELD by the Tribunal:
(i) An uncontrolled entity will expect to earn a market rate of return on its working capital investment independent of the functions it performs or products it provides. However, the amount of capital required to support these functions varies greatly, because the level of inventories, debtors and creditors varies. High levels of working capital create costs either in the form of incurred interest or in the form of opportunity costs. Working capital yields a return resulting from a) higher sales price or b) lower cost of goods sold which would have a positive impact on the operational result. Higher sales prices acts as a return for the longer credit period granted to customers. Similarly in return for longer credit period granted, a firm should be willing to pay higher purchase price which adds to the cost of goods sold. Therefore, high levels accounts receivable and inventory tend to overstate the operating results while high levels of accounts payable tend to understate them thereby necessitating appropriate adjustment. The appropriate adjustments need to be considered to bring parity in the working capital investment of the assessee and the comparables rather than looking at the receivable independently. Such working capital adjustment takes into account the impact of outstanding receivables on the profitability.
(ii) The principle of aggregation is a well-established rule in the transfer pricing analysis. This principle seeks to combine all functionally similar transactions wherein arm’s length price can be determined for a number of transactions taken together. The said principle is enshrined in the transfer pricing regulation itself and has also been advocated by the OECD Guidelines. As the assessee had earned significantly higher margin than the comparable companies (which have been accepted by the TPO) which more than compensates for the credit period extended to the AEs. Thus, the approach by the assessee of aggregating the international transactions pertaining to sale of goods to AE and receivables arising from such transactions which is undoubtedly inextricable connected is in accordance with established TP principles as well as ratio laid down by the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court in the case of Sony Ericson Mobile Communication India Pvt. Ltd.
(iii) Any separate adjustment on the pretext of outstanding receivables while accepting the comparables and transfer price of underlying transaction i.e. sale of goods by application of TNMM is unjustified. The differential impact of working capital of the assessee vis-a-vis its comparables has already been factored in the pricing/ profitability of the assessee and therefore, any further adjustment to the margins of the assessee on the pretext of outstanding receivables is unwarranted and wholly unjustified.