In Re Cummins Limited (AAR)

Managerial services rendered by a UK Co to an Indian Co, even if technical in nature, is not assessable as “fees for technical services” under Article 13 of India-UK DTAA if it does not “make available” any skill, technical know-how etc .

Jan 26, 2016

(i) The objection of the Revenue that the agreement entered into by the applicant with CTIL is a scheme for tax avoidance is without any merits. To say that the applicant has entered into contract with Indian company with the main purpose to take advantage of India-UK Treaty is factually incorrect. The facts as stated by the applicant in the application show that the applicant maintains Global Cummins contract supply agreement with suppliers and is responsible for finalization of supplier prices to Cummins Turbo Technologies worldwide, including CTIL, from UK and US suppliers. There is no mandate for CTIL to source the components from the approved suppliers only and if CTIL finds a better pricing from an alternate supplier, it shall be free to source the component from them. It is incorrect to say that such arrangement has been done with the main purpose to avoid tax. Therefore, the objection of the Revenue on this count fails.

(ii) By making available the technical skills or know-how, the recipient of service will get equipped with that knowledge or expertise and be able to make use of it in future, independent of the service provider. In other words, to fit into the terminology ‘make available’, the technical knowledge, skills etc must remain with the person receiving the services even after the particular contract comes to an end. The services offered may be the product of intense technological effort and lot of technical knowledge and experience of the service provider would have gone into it. But, that is not enough to fall within the description of services which make available the technical knowledge, etc. The technical knowledge or skills of the provider should be imparted to and absorbed by the receiver so that the receiver can deploy similar technology or techniques in future without depending on the provider. Taking some examples, the training given to a commercial aircraft pilot or training the staff in particular skills such as software development would fall within the ambit of the said expression in clause (c). Supposing, a prescription and advice is given by the doctor after examining the patient and going through the clinical reports. The service rendered by the doctor cannot be said to have made available to the patient, the knowledge and expertise possessed by the doctor. On the other hand, if the same doctor teaches or trains the students on the aspects of diagnosis or techniques or surgery, that will amount to making available the technical knowledge and experience of the doctor.

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