Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gift received by assessee on the occasion of his daughter’s marriage isn’t exempt from tax

Gift received by assessee on occasion of his daughter's marriage won't be exempt as the word individual appearing in proviso to sub-clause (vi) of sec. 56(2) relates to marriage of assessee and not of his daughter

The High Court held as under:

1) Proviso to sec. 56(2)(vi) provides that gift received on the occasion of the marriage of an individual would be exempt from tax. There is no ambiguity in such proviso;

2) The expression "individual" appearing in proviso (b) to section 56(2)(vi) of the Act, is preceded by the word "marriage" and, therefore, relates to the marriage of the individual concerned, i.e., the assessee and not to the marriage of any other person related to him in whatsoever degree, whether as his daughter or son;

3) The expression "marriage of the individual" is unambiguous in its intent and does not admit of an interpretation, that it would include an amount received on the marriage of a daughter;

4) If the Legislature had intended that gifts received on the occasion of marriage of the assessee's children would be exempted, nothing would prevent the Legislature from adding the words "or his children", after the words "marriage of the individual";

5) Thus, in view of unambiguous legislative intent appearing in the proviso, the addition made to the appellant's income on account of gifts received on the occasion of his daughter's marriage was to be affirmed - Rajinder Mohan Lal v. Dy.CIT [2013] 36 250 (Punjab & Haryana)

‘Tax avoidance’ arrangement is legitimate if it’s within four corners of law, says HC

Where arrangement of assessee to avoid payment of tax did not contravene any statutory provision and was achieved within four corners of law, it couldn’t be found fault with

In the instant case the assessee was holding shares in BFSL, which had purchased 15 acres of land from assessee. The assessee sold its shareholding in BFSL for a certain consideration to DLF through Stock Exchange after paying STT and claimed exemption from gain on sale of shares under section 10(38). The AO held that sale of shares by assessee was a colourable device and that virtually the immovable property had been transferred to DLF and assessee was liable to tax on short-term capital gain on sale of immovable property. Further, the CIT (A) and the Tribunal upheld the order of the AO.

The High Court held in favour of assessee as under:

1) Every taxpayer is entitled to arrange his affairs so that his taxes would be as low as possible and that he is not bound to choose that pattern which will replenish the treasury. If the taxpayer is in a position to carry through a transaction in two alternative ways, one of which will result in liability to tax and the other will not, he would at liberty to choose the latter one and would do so effectively in the absence of any specific tax avoidance provision;

2) If BFSL had sold the property by executing a registered sale deed and received the sale consideration, then it ought to have paid capital gains on the said consideration. All the authorities were carried away by this aspect of the matter and because the Department was deprived of the tax, they had come to the conclusion that it was a colourable device and tax planning to avoid payment of taxes;

3) The assessee by resorting to such tax planning had taken advantage of the benefit of the loopholes in the law, which had endured to his benefit. After seeing how this loophole had been exploited within four corners of the law, it was open to the Parliament to amend the law plugging the loopholes;

4) However, by any judicial interpretation one couldn’t read into the section, which was not intended to by the Parliament at the time of enacting this provision. If the shareholder chose to transfer the land to the purchaser of the shares, it would be a legal transaction, in law, and merely because it was able to avoid payment of tax, it couldn’t be said to be a colourable device or a share transaction;

5) The finding of the assessing authority that it was a transfer of immovable property was contrary to law and material on record.

Unfortunately, three authorities committed the very same mistake which was illegal, contrary to settled legal position and, therefore, required to be set aside - Bhoruka Engineering Inds. Ltd. v. Dy.CIT [2013] 36 82 (Karnataka)

No deduction of tax from medical allowances paid to employees along with salary before incurring of such exp

Employer was not at fault for not deducting tax at source from medical allowances paid to its employees before incurring of actual medical expenditure. It couldn’t be deemed to be in default for non-deduction of tax on medical reimbursements if it has made bona fide estimate of taxable salary of its employees

In the instant case the payments made by assessee to its employees every month included a component towards medical expenditure. The AO treated assessee as an ‘assessee-in-default’ for not deducting tax at source from medical reimbursements upto Rs. 15,000 paid to the employees. In this regard, AO held that the payment of medical expenditure had not to precede the actual incurring of the expenses and it should be only by way of reimbursement. On assessee’s appeal, the CIT(A) quashed the order of the AO Aggrieved revenue filed the instant appeal.

The Tribunal held in favour of assessee as under:

1) The exemption in respect of medical expenditure was to be restricted to expenditure actually incurred by the employees, or Rs. 15,000 whichever was lower. The exemption was to be granted even if the payment preceded the incurrence of expenditure;

2) Though the allowance paid by the assessee to the employees would not form part of taxable salary of an employee, yet if the employer was required to deduct tax at source treating it as part of salary, then that would be contrary to the provisions of Sec.192(3) of the Act;

3) The liability of the person deducting tax at source couldn’t be greater than the liability of the person on whose behalf tax at source was deducted. No tax could be recovered from the employer on account of short deduction of tax at source under section 192 if a bona fide estimate of salary taxable in the hands of the employee was made by the employer. Thus, the order passed by the AO was rightly quashed by the CIT(A) – ACIT v. SAP Labs India (P.) Ltd. [2013] 36 200 (Bangalore - Trib.)