“Goodwill” is an intangible asset eligible for depreciation u/s 32
Pursuant to an amalgamation of another company with the assessee, the difference between the consideration paid by the assessee and the net value of assets of the amalgamating company was treated by the assessee as “goodwill” and depreciation of Rs. 54 lakhs was claimed thereon u/s 32(1)(ii). The AO rejected the claim on the ground that (i) “goodwill” was not an “intangible asset” as defined in Explanation 3 to s. 32(1) and (ii) the assessee had not paid anything for the same. The Tribunal and High Court upheld the assessee’s claim. On appeal by the department to the Supreme Court, HELD dismissing the appeal:
Explanation 3 to s. 32 states that the expression “asset” shall mean an intangible asset, being know-how, patents, copyrights, trademarks, licences, franchises or any other business or commercial rights of similar nature. The words “any other business or commercial rights of similar nature” in clause (b) of Explanation 3 indicates that goodwill would fall under the expression “any other business or commercial right of a similar nature“. The principle of ejusdem generis would strictly apply while interpreting the said expression which finds place in Explanation 3(b). Consequently, “Goodwill” is an asset under Explanation 3(b) to s. 32(1) & eligible for depreciation. Though the AO held that the assessee had not “paid” anything for the goodwill, this cannot be accepted because (a) the CIT (A) & Tribunal (correctly) held that that the difference between the cost of an asset and the amount paid in the process of amalgamation constituted “goodwill” and (b) this aspect was not challenged by the department before the High Court.