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ACIT vs. Robert Arthur Keltz (ITAT Delhi)
August, 01st 2013

ESOP to expatriate employee of foreign company not chargeable for period he was outside India even if ESOP was vested and exercised in India

The assessee, an employee of M/s UTIO, USA, was granted “employee stock options” of 34000 shares on 9.01.2004 when he was outside India. The assessee was deputed to the India liaison office on 01.04.2006 and the stock options vested on 09.01.2007 when he was in India. The assessee exercised the stock options on 01.02.2007, when he was still in India. The AO held that as the assessee was in India on the date of vesting and exercise of the stock options, the entire benefit thereof was assessable as a perquisite in his hands. However, the CIT(A) held that as the employee had been in India for only for a part of the time of the vesting period, only a proportionate stock option benefit, which is attributable to the period spent in India accrued to the employee and was chargeable to tax in India. On appeal by the department to the Tribunal HELD:

If a part of the activity done by the assessee-employee has no relation to any India specific job or activity it is not chargeable to tax in India. On facts, the assessee was in India only for a short period i.e. 1.4.2006 onwards. Prior to that, he has not done any service connected with any activity in India. Accordingly, as the assessee has not rendered service in India for the whole grant period, only such proportion of the ESOP perquisite as is relatable to the service rendered by the assessee in India is taxable in India (Sumit Bhattacharya 112 ITD 1 (SB) referred)

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