It is clear that the prescribed authority has been vested with the power to charge fees under section 234E of the Act only with regard to levy of fees by the substitution made by Finance (No.2) Act, 2015 w.e.f. 01.06.2015. Once the power has been given, under which any levy has to be imposed upon tax payer, then such power comes into effect from the date of substitution and cannot be applied retrospectively. The said exercise of power has been provided by the statute to be from 01.06.2015 and hence, is to be applied prospectively. There is no merit in the claim of Revenue that even without insertion of clause (c) under section 200A(1) of the Act, it was incumbent upon the assessee to pay fees, in case there is default in furnishing the statement of tax deducted at source. Admittedly, the onus was upon the assessee to prepare statements and deliver the same within prescribed time before the prescribed authority, but the power to collect the fees by the prescribed authority vested in such authority only by way of substitution of clause (c) to section 200A(1) of the Act by the Finance Act, 2015 w.e.f. 01.06.2015. Prior to said substation, the Assessing Officer had no authority to charge the fees under section 234E of the Act while issuing intimation under section 200A of the Act. Before exercising the authority of charging any sum from any deductor or the assessee, the prescribed authority should have necessary power vested in it and before vesting of such power, no order can be passed by the prescribed authority in charging of such fees under section 234E of the Act, while exercising jurisdiction under section 200A of the Act. Thus, in the absence of enabling provisions, under which the prescribed authority is empowered to charge the fees, the Assessing Officer while processing the returns filed by the deductor in respect of tax deducted at source can raise the demand on account of taxes, if any, not deposited and charge interest. However, prior to 01.06.2015, the Assessing Officer does not have the power to charge fees under section 234E of the Act while processing TDS returns. In the absence of enabling provisions, levy of fees could not be effected in the course of intimation issued under section 200A of the Act prior to 01.06.2015
It is hardly required to be stated that, as per the well established principles of interpretation of statute, unless it is expressly provided or impliedly demonstrated, any provision of statute is to be read as having prospective effect and not retrospective effect. Under the circumstances, we find that substitution made by clause (c) to (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 200A can be read as having prospective effect and not having retroactive character or effect. Resultantly, the demand under Section 200A for computation and intimation for the payment of fee under Section 234E could not be made in purported exercise of power under Section 200A by the respondent for the period of the respective assessment year prior to 1.6.2015. However, we make it clear that, if any deductor has already paid the fee after intimation received under Section 200A, the aforesaid view will not permit the deductor to reopen the said question unless he has made payment under protest.
The issue is whether such a levy could be effected in the course of intimation under section 200A. The answer is clearly in negative. No other provision enabling a demand in respect of this levy has been pointed out to us and it is thus an admitted position that in the absence of the enabling provision under section 200A, no such levy could be effected. As intimation under section 200A, raising a demand or directing a refund to the tax deductor, can only be passed within one year from he end of the financial year within which the related TDS statement is filed, and as the related TDS statement was filed on 19th February 2014, such a levy could only have been made at best within 31st March 2015. That time has already elapsed and the defect is thus not curable even at this stage
The Assessing Officer has exceeded his jurisdiction in levying fee under Section 234E while processing the statement and make adjustment under Section 200A of the Act. Therefore, the impugned intimation of the lower authorities levying fee under Section 234E of the Act cannot be sustained in law. However, it is made clear that it is open to the Assessing Officer to pass a separate order under Section 234E of the Act levying fee provided the limitation for such a levy has not expired
Section 200A was amended by the Finance Act 2015 with effect from 1st June 2015 to provide that in the course of processing of a TDS statement and issuance of intimation under section 200A in respect thereof, an adjustment could also be made in respect of the fee computed in accordance with the provisions of section 234E. As the law stood prior to 1st June 2015, there was no enabling provision therein for raising a demand in respect of levy of fees under section 234E
The late submission of TDS statements means the Department is burdened with extra work which is otherwise not required if the TDS statements were furnished within the prescribed time. This fee is for the payment of the additional burden forced upon the Department. A person deducting the tax (the deductor), is allowed to file his TDS statement beyond the prescribed time provided he pays the fee as prescribed under section 234E of the Act. In other words, the late filing of the TDS return/statements is regularised upon payment of the fee as set out in section 234E. This is nothing but a privilege and a special service to the deductor allowing him to file the TDS return/statements beyond the time prescribed by the Act and/or the Rules. We therefore cannot agree with the argument of the Petitioners that the fee that is sought to be collected under section 234E of the Act is really nothing but a collection in the guise of a tax