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Bharti Airtel Limited vs. ACIT (ITAT Delhi)
March, 24th 2014

Transfer Pricing: A transaction (such as a corporate guarantee) which has no bearing on profits, incomes, losses or assets of the enterprise is not an ‘international transaction’ u/s 92B(1) and not subject to transfer pricing

The assessee issued a corporate guarantee to Deutsche Bank on behalf of its associated enterprise, Bharti Airtel (Lanka), whereby it guaranteed repayment for working capital facility. The assessee claimed that since it had not incurred any cost on account of issue of such guarantee, and the guarantee was issued as a part of the shareholder activity, no transfer pricing adjustment could be made. However, the TPO held that as the AE had benefited, the ALP had to be computed on CUP method at a commission income of 2.68% plus a mark-up of 200 bp. This was upheld by the DRP by relying on the retrospective amendment to s. 92B which specifically included guarantees in the definition of “international transaction”. On appeal by the assessee to the Tribunal HELD allowing the appeal:

(i) A transaction between two enterprises constitutes an “international transaction” u/s 92B only if it has a bearing on profits, incomes, losses, or assets of such enterprises”. Even the transactions referred to in the Explanation to s. 92 B, which was inserted with retrospective effect (which includes giving of guarantees under clauses (c)), should also be such as to have a bearing on profits, incomes, losses or assets of such enterprise;

(ii) The onus is on the revenue to demonstrate that the transaction has a bearing on profits, income, losses or assets of the enterprise. The said impact has to be on real basis, even if in present or in future, and not on contingent or hypothetical basis. There has to be some material on record to indicate, even if not to establish it to hilt, that an intra AE international transaction has some impact on profits, income, losses or assets;

(iii) When an assessee extends assistance to the AE, which does not cost anything to the assessee and particularly for which the assessee could not have realized money by giving it to someone else during the course of its normal business, such an assistance or accommodation does not have any bearing on its profits, income, losses or assets, and, therefore, it is outside the ambit of international transaction u/s 92B (1).

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