The Supreme Court of Thailand recently gave its decision in the case of Hanasemi Conductor (Bangkok) Co., Ltd. (Hasemi Conductor) v. Thai Revenue Department. Details of the decision are summarized below.
(a) Facts. Hasemi Conductor had previously engaged the services of a distributor for its products in the United States. The company subsequently decided to enter into direct contracts of sales with its US customers and purchased the customer base (i.e. names, addresses, terms and conditions of purchase) from the US distributor for USD 3 million.
(b) Issue. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether or not the payment for the customer base constitutes a royalty payment and thus subject to withholding tax.
(c) Decision. The Supreme Court held that the payment for the customer base was considered as royalty and subject to withholding tax under the Thailand-US tax treaty. The customer base was a kind of know-how that had been developed by the US company in the course of its business and was necessary information for the operation of a business