Transfer of shares by a foreign company to its wholly owned Indian subsidiary not taxable in India
Praxair Pacific Limited (PPL ), a company incorporated in Mauritius, proposes to transfer its 74% equity stake in Jindal Praxair Oxygen Company Private Limited (JPOCPL) to its wholly owned subsidiary in India, Praxair India Private Limited (Praxair India). The consideration for the proposed transfer is stated to be determined on the basis of cost, unless a higher consideration is required under the pricing guidelines prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India as applicable for transfer of shares.
Issues before the AAR
» Whether the investment held by PPL in equity shares of JPOCPL would be considered as "capital asset" under section 2(14) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 ("ITA")?
» Whether transfer of JPOCPL from PPL to its wholly owned subsidiary Praxair India would be liable to tax in India in view of the exemption under section 47(iv) of the ITA?
Exemption under section 47(iv) of the ITA is available if the capital asset is transferred by a holding company to its wholly owned Indian subsidiary.
» Whether PPL would be entitled to the benefits of the India – Mauritius Tax Treaty ("Treaty") and whether the gain arising to PPL would be liable to tax in India having regard to the provisions of Article 13 of the Treaty?
» Whether the gains arising to PPL from the sale of equity shares of JPOCPL would be taxable in India in the absence of Permanent Establishment ("PE") of PPL in India in light of the provisions of Article 7 read with Article 5 of the Treaty?
» Whether PPL would be liable to Minimum Alternate tax under the ITA?
» Where the gains arising to PPL on account of the proposed transfer is not taxable in India under the Act or the Treaty, whether Praxair India, the transferee company, is required to withhold tax in accordance with the provisions of section 195 of the ITA?
» If the gains are not taxable in India, whether PPL is required to file any return of income of income under section 139 of the ITA? This question was not pressed by PPL.
» Whether the proposed transfer of equity shares by PPL to Praxair India attracts the transfer pricing provisions of section 92 to 92F of the ITA?
Contention of the applicant
» The shares held by PPL in JPOCPL are not held as stock-in-trade but represent investments and thus should be classified as a capital asset.
» As PPL proposes to transfer its equity shareholding in JPOCPL to Praxair India, its wholly owned subsidiary in India, the provisions of section 47(iv) of the ITA are fulfilled. Gains, if any, on the transfer of equity shares in JPOCPL would not be taxable in India.
» PPL would not be liable to tax book profits or Minimum Alternate tax under the ITA as the provisions of section 11 5JB would be applicable only to domestic companies and not to foreign companies.
» The gains from the proposed transfer of shares in JPOCPL by the Applicant would not be taxable in India as capital gains or business income in the light of the treaty.
» In case the proposed gains are not considered as capital gains but as business income, such business income will not be taxable in India since PPL does not have a PE in India.
Observations / Rulings of the AAR
» The shares in JPOCPL have been held as "Non-current assets – investment in subsidiaries" since 1995 and were never a subject matter of any transaction till date. As the shares were not held as stock in trade, the nature of the investment in these shares is held to be a "capital asset" as defined in section 2(14) of the ITA.
» As PPL proposes to transfer its equity share holding in JPOCPL to Praxair India which is its wholly owned subsidiary in India, the conditions under section 47(iv) of the ITA are fulfilled and hence the gains if any arising on transfer would not be taxable in India.
» As PPL is tax resident of Mauritius and has been issued Tax Residency Certificate by the Mauritius Revenue Authority, it would not be subjected to tax in India on the capital gains arising from the proposed transaction in India under the Treaty.
» The annual accounts of the applicant cannot be prepared in accordance with Schedule VI of the Companies Act 1956. The provision under the ITA relating to Book Profits Tax is not designed to be applicable to a foreign company which has no presence or PE in India. The AAR relied on its ruling in the case of Timken USA (AAR 836 of 2009) where it was held that under the Companies Act 1956 only such foreign companies who have established a place of business within India are required to make out a Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss account as required under the said Act.
» Sections 11 5JB of the ITA is not attracted in the case of PPL.
» The transfer pricing provisions of section 92 to 92F of the ITA would not be attracted in the absence of liability to pay tax on the capital gain.
Conclusion:-Gains from the transfer of shares by a Mauritius company to its wholly owned subsidiary in India would not be taxable in India either under the ITA. The AAR has also reiterated the benefit of the India- Mauritius tax treaty would be available to PPL as it had adequate tax residency certificate issued by the Mauritius Revenue Authority. Further, the gains from such transfer would not be subject to Minimum Alternate Tax as the provisions under the ITA governing such tax do not apply to a foreign company that has no presence or PE in India
Source: M/s. Praxair Pacific Limited (A.A.R. No. 855/2009 dated 23 July 2010)