Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Case Law digest : BASIC CONCEPTS

1. What is the nature of liquidated damages received by a company from the supplier of plant for failure to supply machinery to the company within the stipulated time – a capital receipt or a revenue receipt?
CIT v. Saurashtra Cement Ltd. (2010) 325 ITR 422 (SC)

The assessee, a cement manufacturing company, entered into an agreement with a supplier for purchase of additional cement plant. One of the conditions in the agreement was that if the supplier failed to supply the machinery within the stipulated time, the assessee would be compensated at 5% of the price of the respective portion of the machinery without proof of actual loss. The assessee received Rs.8.50 lakhs from the supplier by way of liquidated damages on account of his failure to supply the machinery within the stipulated time. The Department assessed the amount of liquidated damages to income-tax. However, the Appellate Tribunal held that the amount was a capital receipt and the High Court concurred with this view.
The Apex Court affirmed the decision of the High Court holding that the damages were directly and intimately linked with the procurement of a capital asset i.e., the cement plant, which lead to delay in coming into existence of the profit-making apparatus. It was not a receipt in the course of profit earning process. Therefore, the amount received by the assessee towards compensation for sterilization of the profit earning source, not in the ordinary course of business, is a capital receipt in the hands of the assessee.

2. What is the nature of incentive received under the scheme formulated by the Central Government for recoupment of capital employed and repayment of loans taken for setting up/expansion of a sugar factory – Capital or Revenue?
CIT v. Kisan Sahkari Chini Mills Ltd. (2010) 328 ITR 27 (All.)
The assessee, engaged in the business of manufacture and sale of sugar, claimed that the incentive received under the Scheme formulated by the Central Government for recoupment of capital employed and repayment of loans taken from a financial institution for setting up/ expansion of a new sugar
factory is a capital receipt. The Assessing Officer, however, treated it as a revenue receipt.
On this issue, the High Court followed the ruling of the Apex Court in CIT v. Ponni Sugars and Chemicals Ltd. (2008) 306 ITR 392, wherein a similar scheme was under consideration. In that case, the Apex Court had held that the main eligibility condition for the scheme was that the incentive had to be utilized for the repayment of loans taken by the assessee to set up a new unit or substantial expansion of an existing unit. The subsidy receipt by the assessee was, therefore, not in the course of a trade and hence, was of capital nature.
3. Where the hotel industry was established based on subsidy announced by the State Government, can such subsidy be treated as a revenue receipt solely due to the reason that the same was received by the assessee after completion of the hotel projects and commencement of the business?
CIT v. Udupi Builders P. Ltd. (2009) 319 ITR 440 (Kar.)
The assessee-company treated the amount of subsidy received from the State Government, as a capital investment. The subsidy was granted by the State Government to encourage the hotel industry. The Assessing Officer opined that the same was a revenue receipt. The Commissioner (Appeals) held that the subsidy had been granted to the assessee by the State Government as per the package of incentives and concessions and that it was towards investment and not a revenue receipt. The Tribunal confirmed the order passed by the Commissioner (Appeals).
The Revenue filed an appeal to the High Court contending that since the subsidy is received by the assessee after completion of the hotel project and commencing of the business, such receipt has to be taken as a revenue receipt and not a capital investment.
The High Court held that the hotel industry was established based on the subsidy announced by the State Government to encourage tourism and the State Government was in the habit of releasing the subsidy amount depending upon the budgetary allocation in each year. In several cases, the State Government had released the subsidy amount even after ten years of the commencement of the project. Therefore, the subsidy received has to be treated as a capital receipt and would not be liable to tax. 2
4. Would the provisions of deemed dividend under section 2(22)(e) be attracted in respect of financial transactions entered into in the normal course of business?
CIT v. Ambassador Travels (P) Ltd. (2009) 318 ITR 376 (Del.)
Relevant section: 2(22)(e)
Under section 2(22)(e), loans and advances made out of accumulated profits of a company in which public are not substantially interested to a beneficial owner of shares holding not less than 10% of the voting power or to a concern in which such shareholder has substantial interest is deemed as dividend. However, this provision would not apply in the case of advance made in the course of the assessee’s business as a trading transaction.
The assessee, a travel agency, has regular business dealings with two concerns in the tourism industry dealing with holiday resorts. The High Court observed that the assessee was involved in booking of resorts for the customers of these companies and entered into normal business transactions as a part of its day-to-day business activities. The High Court held that such financial transactions cannot under any circumstances be treated as loans or advances received by the assessee from these concerns for the purpose of application of section 2(22)(e).

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