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No penalty to be paid by the Asseessee u/s 271 for additions made by AO

Nayan Builders and Developers Private Limited vs Income Tax Officer

[INCOME TAX APPELLATE TRIBUNAL, 18 Apr 2011]

Assessing Officer made addition in return of assessee in respect of 3 items and levied penalty u/s 271(1)(c) of the Act on assessee – On appeal, Commissioner upheld the order of the AO – Tribunal also upheld said additions in quantum proceedings for which the penalty had been held to be imposable – Assessee filed an appeal against said order which was admitted by the HC – Subsequently, assessee filed appeal before Tribunal to disbar penalty imposed u/s. 271(1)(c) of the Act on the ground that HC had admitted appeal filed against earlier order of Tribunal in respect of said addition – Whether penalty levied u/s. 271(1)(c) of the Act could be disbared on the ground that HC had admitted appeal filed against earlier order of Tribunal in respect of said addition? – Held, when the HC admits substantial question of law on an addition, it becomes apparent that the addition was certainly debatable – In such circumstances penalty cannot be levied u/s 271(1)(c) of the Act – The admission of substantial question of law by the HC lends credence to the bona fides of the assessee in claiming deduction – Once it turns out that the claim of the assessee could have been considered for deduction as per a person properly instructed in law and was not completely debarred at all, the mere fact of confirmation of disallowance would not per se lead to the imposition of penalty – Hence, admission of appeal by HC was sufficient to disbar penalty levied u/s. 271(1)(c) of the Act – Appeal allowed.

Section 271 of The Income Tax Act, 1961 for ready reference:

Failure to furnish returns, comply with notices, concealment of income, etc.

(1) If the Assessing Officer or the Commissioner (Appeals) or the Commissioner in the course of any proceedings under this Act, is satisfied that any person-

(b) has failed to comply with a notice under sub-section (1) of section 142 or sub-section (2) of section 143 or fails to comply with a direction issued under sub-section (2A) of section 142, or

(c) has concealed the particulars of his income or furnished inaccurate particulars of such income,

he may direct that such person shall pay by way of penalty,-

(ii) in the cases referred to in clause (b), in addition to any tax payable by him, a sum of ten thousand rupees for each such failure;

(iii) in the cases referred to in clause (c), in addition to any tax payable by him, a sum which shall not be less than, but which shall not exceed three times, the amount of tax sought to be evaded by reason of the concealment of particulars of his income or the furnishing of inaccurate particulars of such income:

Explanation 1.-Where in respect of any facts material to the computation of the total income of any person under this Act,-

(A) such person fails to offer an explanation or offers an explanation which is found by the Assessing Officer or the Commissioner (Appeals) or the Commissioner to be false, or

(B) such person offers an explanation which he is not able to substantiate and fails to prove that such explanation is bonafide and that all the facts relating to the same and material to the computation of his total income have been disclosed by him,

then, the amount added or disallowed in computing the total income of such person as a result thereof shall, for the purposes of clause (c) of this sub-section, be deemed to represent the income in respect of which particulars have been concealed:

Explanation 2.-Where the source of any receipt, deposit, outgoing or investment in any assessment year is claimed by any person to be an amount which had been added in computing the income or deducted in computing the loss in the assessment of such person for any earlier assessment year or years but in respect of which no penalty under clause (iii) of this sub-section had been levied, that part of the amount so added or deducted in such earlier assessment year immediately preceding the year in which the receipt, deposit, outgoing or investment appears (such earlier assessment year hereafter in this Explanation referred to as the first preceding year) which is sufficient to cover the amount represented by such receipt, deposit or outgoing or value of such investment (such amount or value hereafter in this Explanation referred to as the utilised amount) shall be treated as the income of the assessee, particulars of which had been concealed or inaccurate particulars of which had been furnished for the first preceding year; and where the amount so added or deducted in the first preceding year is not sufficient to cover the utilised amount, that part of the amount so added or deducted in the year immediately preceding the first preceding year which is sufficient to cover such part of the utilised amount as is not so covered shall be treated to be the income of the assessee, particulars of which had been concealed or inaccurate particulars of which had been furnished for the year immediately preceding the first preceding year and so on, until the entire utilised amount is covered by the amounts so added or deducted in such earlier assessment years.

Explanation 3.-Where any person who has not previously been assessed under this Act, fails, without reasonable cause, to furnish within the period specified in sub-section (1) of section 153 a return of his income which he is required to furnish under section 139 in respect of any assessment year commencing on or after the 1st day of April, 1989, and until the expiry of the period aforesaid, no notice has been issued to him under clause (i) of sub-section (1) of section 142 or section 148 and the Assessing Officer or the Commissioner (Appeals) is satisfied that in respect of such assessment year such person has taxable income, then, such person shall, for the purposes of clause (c) of this sub-section, be deemed to have concealed the particulars of his income in respect of such assessment year, notwithstanding that such person furnishes a return of his income at any time after the expiry of the period aforesaid in pursuance of a notice under section 148.

Explanation 4.-For the purposes of clause (iii) of this sub-section, the expression ” the amount of tax sought to be evaded “,-

(a) in any case where the amount of income in respect of which particulars have been concealed or inaccurate particulars have been furnished exceeds the total income assessed, means the tax that would have been chargeable on the income in respect of which particulars have been concealed or inaccurate particulars have been furnished had such income been the total income;

The following clause (a) shall be substituted for the existing clause (a) in Explanation 4 to section 271 by the Finance Act, 2002, w.e.f. 1-4-2003:

(a) in any case where the amount of income in respect of which particulars have been concealed or inaccurate particulars have been furnished has the effect of reducing the loss declared in the return or converting that loss into income, means the tax that would have been chargeable on the income in respect of which particulars have been concealed or inaccurate particulars have been furnished had such income been the total income;

(b) in any case to which Explanation 3 applies, means the tax on the total income assessed;

(c) in any other case, means the difference between the tax on the total income assessed and the tax that would have been chargeable had such total income been reduced by the amount of income in respect of which particulars have been concealed or inaccurate particulars have been furnished.

Explanation 5.-Where in the course of a search under section 132, the assessee is found to be the owner of any money, bullion, jewellery or other valuable article or thing (hereafter in this Explanation referred to as assets) and the assessee claims that such assets have been acquired by him by utilising (wholly or in part) his income,-

(a) for any previous year which has ended before the date of the search, but the return of income for such year has not been furnished before the said date or, where such return has been furnished before the said date, such income has not been declared therein; or

(b) for any previous year which is to end on or after the date of the search,

then,notwithstanding that such income is declared by him in any return of income furnished on or after the date of the search, he shall, for the purposes of imposition of a penalty under clause (c) of sub-section (1) of this section, be deemed to have concealed the particulars of his income or furnished inaccurate particulars of such income, unless,-

(1) such income is, or the transactions resulting in such income are recorded,-

(i) in a case falling under clause (a), before the date of the search; and

(ii) in a case falling under clause (b), on or before such date, in the books of account, if any, maintained by him for any source of income or such income is otherwise disclosed to the Chief Commissioner or Commissioner before the said date; or

(2) he, in the course of the search, makes a statement under sub-section (4) of section 132 that any money, bullion, jewellery or other valuable article or thing found in his possession or under his control, has been acquired out of his income which has not been disclosed so far in his return of income to be furnished before the expiry of time specified in sub-section (1) of section 139, and also specifies in the statement the manner in which such income has been derived and pays the tax, together with interest, if any, in respect of such income.

Explanation 6.-Where any adjustment is made in the income or loss declared in the return under the proviso to clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 143 and additional tax charged under that section, the provisions of this sub-section shall not apply in relation to the adjustment so made.

Explanation 7.-Where in the case of an assessee who has entered into an international transaction defined in section 92B, any amount is added or disallowed in computing the total income under sub-section (4) of section 92C, then, the amount so added or disallowed shall, for the purposes of clause (c) of this sub-section, be deemed to represent the income in respect of which particulars have been concealed or inaccurate particulars have been furnished, unless the assessee proves to the satisfaction of the Assessing Officer or the Commissioner (Appeals) or the Commissioner that the price charged or paid in such transaction was computed in accord­ance with the provisions contained in section 92C and in the manner prescribed under that section, in good faith and with due diligence.

(1A) Where any penalty is imposable by virtue of Explanation 2 to sub-section (1), proceedings for the imposition of such penalty may be initiated notwithstanding that any proceedings under this Act in the course of which such penalty proceedings could have been initiated under sub-section (1) have been completed.

(2) When the person liable to penalty is a registered firm or an unregistered firm which has been assessed under clause (b) of section 183, then, notwithstanding anything contained in the other provisions of this Act, the penalty imposable under sub-section (1) shall be the same amount as would be imposable on that firm if that firm were an unregistered firm.

(4) If the Assessing Officer or the Commissioner (Appeals) in the course of any proceedings under this Act, is satisfied that the profits of a registered firm have been distributed otherwise than in accordance with the shares of the partners as shown in the instrument of partnership on the basis of which the firm has been registered under this Act, and that any partner has thereby returned his income below its real amount, he may direct that such partner shall, in addition to the tax, if any, payable by him, pay by way of penalty a sum not exceeding one and a half times the amount of tax which has been avoided, or would have been avoided if the income returned by such partner had been accepted as his correct income; and no refunded or other adjustment shall be claimable by any other partner by reason of such direction.

(5) The provisions of this section as they stood immediately before their amendment by the Direct Tax Laws (Amendment) Act, 1989, shall apply to and in relation to any assessment for the assessment year commencing on the 1st day of April, 1988, or any earlier assessment year and references in this section to the other provisions of this Act shall be construed as references to those provisions as for the time being in force and applicable to the relevant assessment year.

 

 

 

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