Monday, July 1, 2013

Retention money isn’t an income of contractor if it has got no rights on it till satisfactory completion of work

If assessee was awarded a contract in terms of which certain amount was withheld by contractee towards retention money for satisfactory execution of contract, such retention money won’t represent assessee's accrued income

In the instant case the assessee had entered into contracts with the companies for onshore construction and erection activities. In terms of the contracts, amounts at the rate of 10% on the onshore activities and at the rate of 15% on the construction and erection activities were to be withheld by companies towards retention money. The AO while framing the assessment held that retention money relating to the satisfactory execution of the contract to be treated as assessee’s accrued income. The assessee, however, contended that it had no right on such retention money till completion of the work and, therefore, the same would have to be recognized only on satisfaction of the terms of the contract. On appeal, the CIT (A) and the Tribunal held in favour of assessee.

The High Court held as under:

1) For the purpose of ascertaining whether income had, in fact, accrued, one has to also see whether there is a real income. No matter by adopting any method the assessee maintains his accounts, be it the cash system or be it the mercantile system. However, in both cases unless there is real income, there cannot be any income tax;

2) In the instant case also, there was no real income as no debt had been created in favour of the assessee by virtue of the contract and the assessee did not get any right to receive the retention money during the previous year. Thus, it couldn’t be said that income in respect of the such retention money had accrued to the assessee during the previous year;

3) A similar question had arisen in case of CIT. v. Simplex Concrete Piles (India) Pvt. Ltd. 179 ITR 8, (Cal.) in which it was held that when there was a clause with regard to retention money, the assessee would get no right to claim any part of the retention money till satisfactory execution of the contract and, therefore, if there was no immediate right to receive the retention money, it couldn’t be said to have accrued to the assessee;

4) In the instant case, so far as retention money was concerned, the assessee had no right to receive the same and, therefore, it couldn’t be said that retention money had accrued to the assessee – DIT (International taxation) v. Ballast Nedam International [2013] 34 270 (Gujarat)

No comments: