Saturday, October 23, 2010

HC Kerala ; S. 14A applies where shares are held as investment and the only benefit derived is dividend

CIT vs. Leena Ramachandran

S. 14A applies where shares are held as investment and the only benefit derived is dividend. S. 36(1)(iii) deduction allowable if shares held as stock-in-trade

The assessee borrowed funds to acquire controlling interest shares in a company with which she claimed to have business dealings. The interest on the borrowings was claimed as a deduction u/s 36(1)(iii). The AO rejected the claim on the ground that the only benefit derived from the investment in shares was dividend and that the interest had to be disallowed u/s 14A. This was confirmed by the CIT (A). The Tribunal held that the deduction of interest was allowable u/s 36(1)(iii) in principle though a portion of the interest paid had to be regarded as attributable to the dividend and was disallowable u/s 14A. On appeal by the Revenue, HELD reversing the order of the Tribunal:

(i) The only benefit derived by the assessee from the investment in shares was the dividend income and no other benefit was derived from the company for the business carried on by it. As dividend is exempt u/s 10(33), the disallowance u/s 14A would apply. The Tribunal was not correct in estimating the s. 14A disallowance to a lesser figure than the interest paid on the borrowing when the whole of the borrowed funds were utilized by the assessee for purchase of shares;

(ii) Deduction of interest u/s 36(1)(iii) on borrowed funds utilized for the acquisition of shares is admissible only if shares are held as stock in trade and the assessee is engaged in trading in shares. So far as acquisition of shares in the form of investment is concerned and where the only benefit derived is dividend income which is not assessable under the Act, disallowance u/s 14A is squarely attracted.

Note: In CIT vs. Hero Cycles 323 ITR 518 (P&H) it was held that held that in the absence of an actual nexus between tax-free income and expenditure, s. 14A disallowance could not be made.

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