Accreditation Fee not taxable as Royalty

Accredation Fee not taxable as RoyaltyACIT vs. Anchor Health and Beauty Care Pvt Ltd (ITAT Mumbai)

As reported by ITAT.ORG: The assessee, engaged in manufacture of tooth paste etc paid Rs 11,71,826 as “accreditation panel fees” to British Dental Health Foundation UK without deduction of tax at source. The AO disallowed the sum u/s 40(a)(i) on the ground that the sum was taxable as “royalty” and tax had not been deducted at source u/s 195(1). The CIT(A) deleted the disallowance. Before the Tribunal, the department argued that since the assessee derived valuable advantage from the accreditation by BDHF and use the same as a marketing tool, the amount constituted “royalty”. HELD dismissing the appeal:

(i) The obligation to deduct tax u/s 195(1) arises only if the payment is chargeable to tax in the hands of non-resident recipient. If the recipient of the income is not chargeable to tax, the vicarious liability on the payer is ineffectual. As the AO had not established how the recipient was liable to pay tax, he was in error in disallowing u/s 40(a)(i) (GE India Technology Center 327 ITR 456 (SC) followed;

 (ii) On merits, though the accreditation fees permitted the assessee the use of name of British Dental Health Foundation, it did not constitute “royalty” under Article 13 of the India-UK DTAA because it did not allow the accredited product to use, or have a right to use, a trademark, nor any information concerning industrial, commercial or scientific experience so as to fall within the definition of the term. The purpose of the accreditation by a reputed body was to give certain comfort level to the end users of the product and to constitute the USP of the product. The term “royalty” cannot be construed as per its normal connotations in business parlance but has to be construed as per the definition in Article 13. The amount constituted “business profits” and as the recipient did not have a PE in India, it was not taxable in India.

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