|COURT:||Bombay High Court|
|CORAM:||M. S. Sanklecha J, S. C. Gupte J|
|CATCH WORDS:||Interest, refund, self assessment tax|
|DATE:||November 17, 2014 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||November 28, 2014 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|S. 244A: Refund of self-assessment tax is entitled to interest|
(i) The contention of revenue is that no interest at all is payable to the petitioner under Section 244A(1)(a) and (b) of the Act unless the amounts have been paid as tax. It would not cover cases where the payment is gratuitous as is evident from the fact that the petitioner in its computation after paying tax on self assessment of Rs.2.60 crores seeks a refund of Rs.47 lacs. According to him it has to be refund of amounts paid as tax. We find that Section 244A(1) of the Act commences with the word “when refund of any amount becomes due to the assessee under this Act…”. Subclause (b) thereof commences with the words “in any other case….”. The words used in Section 244A(1) of the Act are clear inasmuch as it provides that refund of any amount that become due to any assessee under the Act will entitle the assessee to interest. In any case in the present facts, the amount on which the refund is being claimed was originally paid as tax on self-assessment under Section 140A of the Act and evidence of the same in the form of challan was enclosed to the Return of Income. In fact when the Assessing Officer passed the Assessment Order on 31 December 1996, he accepted the entire amount paid as tax on self assessment as a payment of tax. One more feature to be noticed is that when any refund becomes due to an assessee out of tax paid, it becomes so only after holding that it is not the tax payable. Thus we find no substance in the first objection of the revenue that the amount paid as tax on self assessment is not tax and therefore no interest can be granted on refund of such amounts which are not tax.
(ii) In Tata Chemicals 363 ITR 658 (SC), it was held that the requirement to pay interest arise whenever an amount is refunded to an assessee as it is a kind of compensation for use and retention of money collected by the revenue. The only distinction being made in the present facts and those of Apex Court decision in Tata Chemicals is that the amount paid as tax on self assessment was paid voluntarily in the present case while in the case of Tata Chemicals Ltd. (supra) the tax was deducted at a higher rate in view of the order passed by the authority under the Act. We are unable to appreciate this distinction. This is for the reason that when an assessee pays tax either as Advance tax or on self assessment, it is paid to discharge an obligation under the Act. Not complying with the obligation under the Act visits consequences to an assessee just as non compliance of orders passed by authorities under the Act would. Thus there is no voluntary payment of tax on self assessment as contended by the revenue.