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DDIT vs. Metapath Software International Ltd (ITAT Delhi)

COURT:
CORAM: ,
SECTION(S):
GENRE:
CATCH WORDS:
COUNSEL: ,
DATE: April 28, 2017 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: June 9, 2017 (Date of publication)
AY: 1997-98
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CITATION:
S. 271(1)(c) penalty cannot be levied unless there is "evidence beyond doubt" that there was concealment of particulars of income or furnishing inaccurate particulars thereof on the part of the assessee. The fact that the assessee did not voluntarily furnish the return of income, and that the merits were decided against it, does not per se justify levy of penalty. The bonafides of the explanation of the assessee for not complying with the law have to be seen

The AO levied penalty under section 271(1)(c) of the Act on the basis that the assessee tried to evade payment of tax by not filing its return of income. It had filed its return of income only in compliance of notices issued under section 142(1) of the Act. It was claimed that the assessee has furnished inaccurate particulars of its income by claiming that income derived by it from supply of network equipments to Indian customers qualifies as “business profits” and, therefore, not liable to taxation in India under the provisions of Article 7(1) of the Tax Treaty in the absence of a ‘permanent establishment’ of the assessee in India. The penalty was deleted by the CIT(A). On appeal by the department to the Tribunal HELD by the Tribunal dismissing the appeal:

(i) It is an well established proposition of law that being penal in nature, the provisions of section 271(1)(c) of the Act are invoked only when there is evidence beyond doubt that there was concealment of particulars of income or furnishing inaccurate particulars thereof on the part of the assessee towards the tax alleged to be evaded. That is the reason behind that assessment proceedings and penalty proceedings are independent proceedings. In other words, making and sustaining an addition against the assessee will not be always resulted into levy of penalty.

(ii) When we examine the facts of the present case, keeping in mind the above position of law, we find that the Id. CIT (Appeals) has deleted the penalty mainly on the basis that the explanation furnished by the assessee regarding non-filing of its return of income was bonafide. Where an explanation is furnished which the assessee is unable to substantiate, but the assessee establishes that the explanation furnished was bonafide and all the facts relating to the same and material to the computation of its total income has been disclosed by it, in our view, Explanation (1)(B) to section 271(1)(c) of the Act will not be applicable.

(iii) In the present case before us the explanation of the assessee was that being a tax resident of UK it had opted to be taxed in India under the provisions of the India – UK Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (Tax Treaty) for the previous year relevant to the assessment year under consideration. It was explained that under the provisions of the Tax Treaty, income derived by it from supply of network equipments to Indian customers qualify as “business profits” and, therefore, not liable to taxation in India under the provisions of Article 7(1) of the Tax Treaty in Absence of a PE of the assessee in India. Thus, the assessee did not offer the Revenue from supply of network equipment to tax in India. It was a debatable issue, hence failure to voluntarily file return of income under the above bonafide belief cannot be construed to be concealment of income and furnishing inaccurate particulars of income by the tax-payer.

(iv) Also because the Ld. CIT (Appeals) and Tribunal upheld the taxability of assessee in India partially cannot lead to an inference that assessee had furnished inaccurate particulars of income. It is not the case of the Revenue that the assessee had not disclosed all the material facts, but it is a case where the Revenue did not agree with the assessee that it was not liable to taxation in India. Penalty can be levied on account of failure on the part of the assessee to offer explanations with regard to facts material to the computation of total income and where no explanations have been offered by the assessee or were found by the Revenue authorities to be false. There is no such case before us. Under these facts and circumstances considered in its totality, we are of the view that the ld. CIT (Appeals) was justified in deleting the penalty in question. The same is upheld. The ground is accordingly rejected.

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