|CORAM:||R. C. Sharma (AM), Vivek Varma (JM)|
|CATCH WORDS:||Business profits, capital gains, shares, short-term capital gains|
|COUNSEL:||S. C. Tiwari|
|DATE:||February 18, 2015 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||November 23, 2015 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|The object of introduction of Securities Transaction Tax (STT) was to end litigation on the issue of whether profit earned from delivery based sale of shares is capital gains or business profit. Merely because the assessee liquidates its investment within a short span of time, which had given better overall earning to the assessee, would not lead to the conclusion that the assessee had no intention to keep on the funds as investor in equity shares, but was actually intended to trade in shares|
(i) The question as to whether the assessee has earned capital gain or business profits on the shares sold by him depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. Such decision is to be arrived at by taking into account the intention of the assessee while purchasing the shares, as to whether the same was acquired for holding as investment or for doing business therein. The treatment given by the assessee in its books of account is also one of the decisive factors to find out whether the shares were held as investment or stock in trade. If the shares are bought with the intention of earning capital gains thereon and also dividend income by keeping the same as investment, the gain arising there from is required to be treated as capital gains. On the other hand, if the shares are purchased with the intention to earn profit thereon and the same is treated as stock in trade in the books of account, the profit arising out of sale of such shares are liable to be treated as business income. Volume and frequency of transaction is also one of the guiding factors to find out whether the assessee is engaged in the business of purchase and sale of shares or making investment to have capital gains thereon. In the instant cases before us, we found that the assessee has invested in shares of Indian Companies since last 5 – 6 years, which is clear from the statement of shareholding of the assessee. Thus, the fact of the assessee investing in shares for the last several years is not in dispute. There is also no dispute to the fact that the assessee has treated the equity shares of Indian Companies as investment i.e. capital asset all along. The assessee has also taken the shares at cost of acquisition thus given a particular treatment to the shares held as investment, therefore, without brining on record contrary material, the AO cannot change the intention and manner of investment being made by the assessee. Had the assessee valued the shares at cost or market price whichever is lower, the gain arising out of sale of shares could easily be treated as business income. Assessee had not valued the shares as stock but valued the same as investment. Thus, what was a capital asset will remain a capital asset unless a person holding the asset himself changes the nature by a specific action like conversion of capital asset into stock in trade. In the instant cases before us, the assessee has not treated the investment in equity shares of Indian Companies as stock in trade. In view of the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Ram Kumar Agarwal & Brothers, 205 ITR 251, the AO was not justified in treating the capital gain earned from sale of these shares, as business profits, which were entered by the assessee as investment in books of account. There is also no dispute to the well settled legal proposition that principle of res judicata do not strictly apply to the income tax proceedings, but at the very same time, it is well settled that principle of consistency under the same facts and circumstances is the fundamental of judicial principle, which cannot be brushed aside without proper reasoning. In this regard, reliance can be placed on the decision in case of S.M.K. Shares and Stock Broking Private Limited, I.T.A. No. 799/Mum/09 order dated 24.11.2010. In this proposition, the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Gopal Purohit, 228 CTR 582, is very much relevant and important.
(ii) Merely because the assessee liquidates its investment within a short span of time, which had given better overall earning to the assessee, would not lead to the conclusion that the assessee had no intention to keep on the funds as investor in equity shares, but was actually intended to trade in shares.
(iii) Here, it is pertinent to mention the intention of Government for introducing the security transaction tax and exempt the long term capital gain earned from sale of shares and levying 10 % tax on short term capital gain and earned on sale of shares. It is noted that under the old provisions of the Income-tax Act, profits or gains arising to an investor from the transfer of securities were charged to tax either as long term capital gains or short term capital gains depending on the period of holding of the said securities; Short-term capital gains arising from transfer of securities were taxed at the applicable rates (normal rate) and Long-term capital gains were taxed @ 20%, after adjusting for inflation by indexing the cost of acquisition. For listed securities, the taxpayer had an option to pay tax on long-term capital gains @ 10% but without indexation. For Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs), the long-term capital gains and short-term capital gains were taxed at the rate of 10% (without indexation) and 30% respectively. In case of a trader in securities, however, the gains were taxed as any other normal business income. Thus tax liability on the income from purchase & sale of shares as regards to the STCG & business income was at par. However, the issue of treatment of income from share transaction as capital gain or business income has in-fact arisen after the amendment brought with Finance Act – 2004 by insertion of provisions of section 111A and 10(38) as regards to levy of Transaction tax and exemption / concession on capital gain arising from securities entered in a recognized stock exchange. With a view to simplify the tax regime on securities transactions, a tax at the rate of 0.015 per cent. (see: change in rates on securities transactions, by Finance Acts, at appropriate head) is levied on the value of all the transactions of purchase of securities that take place in a recognized stock exchange in India. This tax is collected by the stock exchange from the purchaser of such securities and paid to the exchequer. The provisions relating to the securities transactions tax are contained in Chapter VII of the Finance (No.2) Bill, 2004, and came into effect from 01.10.2004. Further, clause (38) has been inserted in section 10 of the Income-tax Act, so as to provide exemption from long-term capital gains arising out of securities sold on the stock exchange. A new section 111A has also been inserted and section l15AD is amended, so as to provide that short-term capital gains arising from sale of such securities to an investor including FIIs shall be charged at the rate of ten per cent. These amendments apply to assessment year 2005-2006 and subsequent years. Through Finance Act, 2008, sections 111A and 115AD have further been amended whereby the rate of tax on such short-term capital gain has been raised to fifteen percent. Thus, w.e.f. 01.10.2004; on the share transactions subjected to STT; concessional tax rate of 10% (which has been increased to 15% from AY 2009-10) are applicable in respect of STCG whereas no tax is chargeable in respect of LTCG. It is also noted that the CBDT vide its Circular no.4/2007, dated 15.06.2007 has also recognized possibility of two portfolios, i.e. one ‘Investment portfolio’ comprising of securities which are to be treated as capital assets and the other ‘Trading portfolio’ comprising of stock in trade which are to be treated as trading assets. In view of these facts, profit arose on shares in respect of delivery based transaction are liable to be taxed as capital gain and not as business income.
(iv) Analysis of balance sheet of assessee reflects of holding of shares as investment. In the case of Gopal Purohit, 228 CTR 528 (Bom), SLP was filed by the Department against the decision of Bombay High Court and the same was dismissed by Hon’ble Apex Court vide order dated 15.11.2010. In the speech by Hon’ble Finance Minister regarding Direct Tax Cases (Union Budget – 2004-05), especially clause 111, the intention of Government for introducing the security transaction tax and exempting the long term capital gain or from sale of share and levying 10% tax on short term capital gain or from sale of shares also supports the case of assessee. The idea behind introduction of security transaction tax is to end the litigation on the issue, whether the profit earned from delivery based sale of shares is capital gains for business profit.
(v) The Finance Minister‟s Speech can be relied upon to throw light on the object and purpose of the particular provisions introduction by the Finance Bill. Rules of executive construction in a situation of this nature may also be applied. Where a representation is made by the makers of legislation at the time of introduction of Bill or construction thereupon is put by the executive upon its coming into force, the carries great weight. (K.P. Verghese vs ITO 1981), 131 ITR 597 (SC), 609, R & B Falcon (A) Pvt. Ltd vs CIT (2008) 301 ITR 309 (SC), page 323, Kerala State Industrial Corporation, 259 ITR 51 (SC)
(vi) The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in ARJ Security Printers, 264 ITR 276 and Neo Polypack Pvt Ltd. 245 ITR 492 (Del.) held that even when the doctrine of res judicata does not apply to income tax proceedings, where a issue has been decided consistently in earlier assessment years in particular manner, the same view should prevail in subsequent years unless there is a material change in facts, meaning thereby, there must be material change in the facts.