Friday, September 16, 2011

Project also has commercial shops, it is entitled to Sec 80IB(10) benefits

Income tax - Whether when project also has commercial shops, it is entitled to Sec 80IB(10) benefits if it was commenced prior to amendment in Sec 80IB from April 1, 2005 - Yes, rules ITAT

PUNE, JULY 15, 2011: THE question before the Tribunal is - Whether when the project has also commercial shops, it is entitled to deduction u/s 80IB(10) if it was commenced prior to the amendment brought into section 80IB(10) w.e.f. 1st April, 2005. Yes is the Tribunal's answer.

Facts of the case

AO denied deduction claimed u/s. 80 IB(10) on the basis that section 80IB was not applicable to a project which contained shop/commercial establishment and it did not remain a `Housing Project' - the assessee had constructed 66 shops being commercial premises included in the project admeasuring 9404 sq. ft. which was as per the assessee was about 11.88% but as AO about 12.41%.

CIT (A) confirmed the disallowance observing that the commercial construction was more than 5% or 2000 sq.ft. as per the amended provisions of Sec. 80IB (10) w.e.f. 1.4.2005. In A.Y. 2005-06, the amended provision was very much in operation.

Assessee contended that prior to the amendment in Section 80 IB(10) w.e.f. 1.4.2005, there was no restriction on the area for commercial purpses. By Finance Act 2004, the Legislature provided a ceiling of 2000 sq.ft. or 5% of the total area whichever is less. Hence, if a project was commenced prior to A.Y. 2005-06, there was no limit prescribed and accordingly, the assessee's project had satisfied all the conditions laid down in Sec. 80 IB (10). Sec. 80IB(10) states that the profit derived from the "housing project" is entitled to deduction. However, the words "housing project" is not defined in the Section. Therefore, the definition had to be considered in its general meaning and as understood in common parlance.

Further contended that CBDT vide its clarifications dt. 4th May 2001, clarified that in "housing project" certain shopping or commercial area would be mandatory – any project which was approved as a housing project by local authority would be eligible. When the assesees started the project, the old provisions of Section 80 IB(10) were on the Statute in which there was no ceiling on the portion of the commercial area – the housing project could include the commercial portion along with the residential portion. Hence, in view of the decision of the Special Bench in the case of Bramha Associates (2009-TIOL-218-ITAT-PUNE-SB), the assessees were entitled to deduction u/s. 80 IB (10).

Regarding applicability of amended provision to those projects where the project was started and completed before 1.4.2005, the assessee contended that the issue was directly covered by the decision of Mumbai Bench of the Tribunal in the case of Hiranandani Akruti J.V. v/s. DCIT, ITA No. 5416/Mum/2009 (A.Y. 2006-07) wherein it was held that the amended Section would apply to the projects started after 1.4.2005. If the project was commenced earlier, the assessee had not known that the Legislature would put such a restriction in future – the assessees were given an assurance by the Legislature that the profits from the project would be eligible for deduction even if, the project contained commercial portion and the approval was obtained before 1.4.2005 – the deduction had to be given on the basis of promissory estoppal also – it was further contended that if the assessee had followed the WIP method, the income from the project would had been taxable in the earlier years as the project was completed earlier to the amendment and in that case, as per the old provision, the assessee would had been eligible for the deduction. But, just because the assessee has followed the "Project Completion Method "in these cases, the deduction is being denied because it falls in A.Y. 2005-06.

Without prejudice it was contended that on the portion of commercial area exceeding limit under Clause (d), the deduction u/s. 80 IB(10) might not be granted but on the balance project, the deduction should be allowed.

Revenue contended that the amended provisions refer to all projects approved before 31.3.2007 and does not differentiate between Housing Project approved before 2004 or 2003. Had the Legislature wanted to make a distinction between projects commenced prior to 1.4.2005 and completed after the amendment by introducing clause (d) to Sec. 80IB(10) then the Legislature would have said so in clear terms.

In rejoinder the assessee contended that the deduction was continued and extended to the new project by extending the time limit for approval of the projects itself indicates that there was no intention to withdraw or cancel the deduction u/s. 80 IB(10).

After hearing both the parties, the ITAT held that,

++ by applying the principle of harmonious construction to interpret the provisions under Sub-section (10) to Section 80IB as amended w.e.f. 1.4.2005 the legislature always intended that the project must be approved by the local authority, thus in those approved projects where construction has been started much earlier than 1.4.2005, the assessees are required to complete the plan as it has been approved. As putting such assessees to complete the plan meeting out condition under clause (d) of the subsection would lead into absurdity and impossibility for the assessee and in contradiction to the provisions u/s. 80 IB(10) as prevailed at the time of approval and commencement of the construction of the project well before 1.4.2005;

++ in the case of Hiranandani Akruti J.V V/s. DCIT, the Mumbai Bench held that the law as existed when the assessee submitted its proposal and permission for carrying out the development was accorded and when the assessee commenced development is to be applied. In the present cases, in the case of Opel Shelter the project was commenced on 23.2.2001 and even completed on 14.5.2004, similarly in the case of D.S. Kulkarni and Associates, the project was commenced on 12.4.2001 and completed in the month of November 2003. Thus, the assessees were supposed to complete the projects as per the law as existed in the A.Y. 2001-02 in the case of Opel Shelters and in the A.Y. 2002-03 in the case of D.S. Kulkarni and Associates. Thus following the decision in the case of Hiranandani Akruti JV V/s. DCIT it is held that amended provisions under Section 80 IB(10) w.e.f. 1.4.2005 are not applicable in the present case, hence assessees are eligible for the claimed deduction u/s. 80 IB (10) of the Act.

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