INCOME TAX APPELLATE TRIBUNAL, MUMBAI
ITA No.4332/Mum/2009 – Assessment year: 2006-07)
Pinstorm Technologies Pvt. Ltd. Vs ITO
Date of Pronouncement: 18.07.2012
The assessee in the present case is a company which is engaged in the business digital advertising and internet marketing. It utilises the internet search engine such as Google, Yahoo etc. to buy space in advertising on the internet on behalf of its clients. The search engine carries out its own programme whereby the assessee books certain words called “key words”. Whenever any person searches through the net for a specific “key word”, the advertisement of the assessee or its client is displayed. For example, if the “key word” “Hotels in Mumbai” is searched for, the advertisement of ‘Taj Hotel’ may be displayed among sponsor links on the search engine page. The price charged for such booking depends on type of phrase, its popularity, usage etc. The search engine renders this service outside India through internet. Google does such online advertising business in Asia from its office in Ireland. The search engine service is on a worldwide basis and thus is not relatable to any specific country. The entire transaction takes place through the internet and even the invoice is raised and payment is made through internet. During the year under consideration, the assessee company had made a payment of 1,09,35,108/- to Google Ireland Ltd. and the said amount was claimed as ‘advertisement expenditure’. While making the said payment, no tax at source was deducted by the assessee on the ground that the amount paid to Google Ireland Ltd. constituted business profits of the said company and since the said company did not have a permanent establishment (PE) in India, the amount paid was not chargeable to tax in India. According to the A.O., the services rendered by the Ireland company to the assessee company was in the nature of ‘technical services’ and hence the assessee company was liable to deduct the tax at source form the payment made against the said services. Since no such tax at source was deducted by the assessee, the deduction claimed by the assessee on account of expenditure incurred on payment of ‘advertisement charges to M/s. Google Ireland Ltd. was disallowed by the A.O. by invoking the provisions of sec.40(a)(i).
It is observed that a similar issue had come up for consideration before the Tribunal in the case of Yahoo India Pvt. Ltd. and vide its order dated 24th June, 2011 passed in ITA No.506/Mum/2008, the Tribunal decided the same in favour of the assessee for the following reasons given in paragraph No.8 of its order:
“8. As already noted by us, the payment made by assessee in the present case to Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. was for services rendered for uploading and display of the banner advertisement of the Department of Tourism of India on its portal. The banner advertisement hosting services did not involve use or right to use by the assessee any industrial, commercial or scientific equipment and no such use was actually granted by Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. to assessee company. Uploading and display of banner advertisement on its portal was entirely the responsibility of Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. and assessee company was only required to provide the banner Ad to Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. for uploading the same on its portal. Assessee thus had no right to access the portal of Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. and there is nothing to show any positive act of utilization or employment of the portal of Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. by the assessee company. Having regard to all these facts of the case and keeping in view the decision of the Authority of Advance Rulings in the case of Isro Satellite Centre 307 ITR 59 and Dell International Services (India) P. Ltd. 305 ITR 37, we are of the view that the payment made by assessee to Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. for the services rendered for uploading and display of the banner advertisement of the Department of Tourism of India on its portal was not in the nature of royalty but the same was in the nature of business profit and in the absence of any PE of Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. in India, it was not chargeable to tax in India. Assessee thus was not liable to deduct tax at source from the payment made to Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. for such services and in our opinion, the payment so made cannot be disallowed by invoking the provisions of section 40(a) for non-deduction of tax. In that view of the matter we delete the disallowance made by the A.O. and confirmed by the learned CIT (A) u/s 40(a) and allow the appeal of the assessee.”As the issue involved in the present case as well as all the material facts relevant thereto are similar to the case of Yahoo India P. Ltd. (supra), we respectfully follow the decision rendered by the co¬ordinate Bench of this Tribunal in the said case and delete the disallowance made by the A.O. and confirmed by the Ld. CIT (A) by invoking the provisions of sec.40(a)(i) holding that the amount paid by the assessee to M/s. Google Ireland Ltd. for the services rendered for uploading and display of banner advertisement on its portal was in the nature of business profit on which no tax was deductible at source since the same was not chargeable to tax in India in the absence of any PE of Google Ireland Ltd. in India.