Vastavam web: The Income Tax Department will wait till September 7 for settlement of withholding tax by Walmart on payments made to about 44 shareholders exiting e-commerce firm Flipkart before it proceeds in the case, an official has said. US-based retail giant Walmart Inc had completed acquisition of 77 per cent stake in Flipkart for about USD 16 billion deal in mid-August. As per the provisions of the I-T law, Walmart has to deduct withholding tax on payments made to sellers and deposit it with the Indian authorities on the seventh day of the subsequent month, which falls on September 7.
The Walmart has not yet approached the tax department to ascertain the withholding tax liability, although some shareholders of Flipkart who are exiting the e-commerce company have sought guidance on their tax liability, the officials said. “Walmart still has time till September 7 to deduct and pay withholding tax on payments made to about 44 different shareholders of Flipkart,” the official said, adding the department can only proceed in this case once the deadline for payment of taxes is over.
Once the withholding tax is paid the tax authorities will scrutinise whether Walmart has deposited the taxes correctly as per the assessment made by the tax department on the basis of the share purchase agreement shared with it by Bengaluru-based Flipkart. Nangia Advisors LLP Managing Partner Rakesh Nangia said: “If Walmart is liable to withhold tax, non-withholding of appropriate taxes would entail implications under Section 201 of the I-T Act, i e Walmart shall be construed as an ‘assessee in default’ liable to pay interest and penalty for failure to withhold and deposit to the credit of the government the appropriate taxes”.
“The question arises what could be the possible reason behind Walmart’s strategy of not approaching Income-tax authorities to obtain lower/nil withholding order under Section 197? Though order under Section 197 acts as a provisional assessment of the transaction between Walmart and shareholders of Flipkart, it is not an appealable order.” Significant shareholders in Flipkart, like SoftBank, Naspers, venture fund Accel Partners and eBay, have agreed to sell their shares. Also co-founder Sachin Bansal has decided to sell his stake to the US retail major.