|DATE:||(Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||August 11, 2014 (Date of publication)|
|Click here to download the judgement (raj_kumari_57_iii_interest.pdf)|
S. 57(iii): Interest paid on a loan taken to avoid premature encashment of a fixed deposit is deductible against the interest earned on the fixed deposit
The assessee placed a fixed deposit of Rs 1 crore with ICICI Bank on which she earned interest of Rs 11.77 lakhs. The assessee took a loan of Rs. 75 lakhs on the security of the said fixed deposit and paid interest of Rs. 4.36 lakhs thereon. The assessee claimed that the loan was taken to avoid premature encashment of the fixed deposit and the interest paid on the loan had to be deducted against the interest earned on the fixed deposit u/s 57(iii). The AO & CIT(A) rejected the claim on the ground that the interest on the loan had not been laid out or expended wholly and exclusively for the purpose of earning the interest from the fixed deposits. On appeal by the assessee to the Tribunal HELD allowing the appeal:
S. 57(iii) allows a deduction of “any…expenditure (not being in the nature of capital expenditure) laid out or expended wholly and exclusively for the purpose of making or earning such income”. It is clear that as long as the expense is incurred wholly and exclusively for the purpose of earning an income, even if it is not necessarily for earning that income, it will still be deductible in computation of income. What thus logically follows is that even in a situation in which proximate or immediate cause of an expenditure was an event unconnected to earning of the income, in the sense that the expenditure was not triggered by the objective to earn that income, but the expenditure was, nonetheless, wholly and exclusively to earn or protect that income, it will not cease to be deductible in nature. It is also important to bear in mind the fact that a borrowing against fixed deposit cannot be considered in isolation of a fixed deposit itself inasmuch as, going by the admitted facts of this case, the interest chargeable on the fixed deposit itself is linked to the interest accruing and arising from the fixed deposit. On these facts, in order to protect the interest earnings from fixed deposits and to meet her financial needs, when an assessee raises a loan against the fixed deposits, so as to keep the source of earning intact, the expenditure so incurred in wholly and exclusively to earn the fixed deposit interest income. The authorities below were apparently swayed by the fact that the borrowings were triggered by assessee’s financial needs for personal purposes and, by that logic, the borrowing cannot be said to be wholly and exclusively for the purposes of earning interest income, but what this approach overlooks is whether the expenditure is incurred for directly contributing to the beginning of or triggering the source of income or whether the expenditure is for protecting, and thus keeping alive, that source of income, in either case it is expenditure incurred wholly and exclusively for the purpose of earning that income. The assessee indeed required that money, so raised by borrowing against the fixed deposits, for her personal purposes but that’s not relevant for the present purposes. The assessee could have gone for premature encashment of bank deposits, and thus ended the source of income itself, as well, but instead of doing so, she resorted to borrowings against the fixed deposit and thus preserved the source of earning. The expenditure so incurred is an expenditure incurred wholly and exclusively for earning from interest on fixed deposits. We are alive to the fact that in the case of a business assessee, and in a situation in which the borrowings against fixed deposits were resorted to for use in business, consideration for end use of funds so borrowed would be relevant because the interest deduction is claimed as a business deduction u/s 36(1)(iii). That aspect of the matter, however, is academic in the present context as the limited issue for our consideration is whether or not, on the facts before us, the interest on borrowings against the fixed deposits could be said to protect the interest income from fixed deposit interest and thus, incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of earning such income.