CIT vs. Knight Frank (India) Pvt. Ltd (Bombay High Court)

DATE: August 16, 2016 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: August 30, 2016 (Date of publication)
AY: 2007-08, 2008-09
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S. 145A(a)(ii) applies only to goods and not services. Service-tax billed on rendering of services is not includible as trading receipts. No disallowance u/s 43B can be made for the unpaid service-tax liability which is not claimed as a deduction

The High Court had to consider two questions:

(i) Whether service tax can be included as part of trading receipts under section 145A of the Income Tax Act, 1961?

(ii) Whether unpaid service tax liability can be disallowed under section 43B of the Income Tax Act, 1961?

HELD by the High Court:

(a) It is very clear from the reading of Section 145A(a)(ii) of the Act that it only covers cases where the amount of tax, duty, cess or fee is actually paid or incurred by the assessee to bring the goods to the place of its location and condition as on the date of valuation.

(b) In this case, the assessee has admittedly not paid or incurred any liability for the purposes of bringing any goods to the place of its location. In this case, the assessee is rendering services. Thus, on the plain reading of Section145A(a)(ii) of the Act, it is self evident that the same would not apply to the service tax billed on rendering of services. This is so as the service tax billed has no relation to any goods nor does it have anything to do with bringing the goods to a particular location.

(c) The Explanation to Section 145A(a) of the Act does not expand its scope. An Explanation normally does not widen the scope of the main section. It merely helps clarifying an ambiguity. (See Zakiyr Begam v/s. Shanaz Ali & Ors., 2010 (9) SCC 280). The main part of the Section specifically restrict its ambit only to valuation of purchase and sale of goods and inventory. Rendering of service is not goods or inventory. Goods would mean movables and inventory would mean stock of goods. Therefore, the Explanation would only apply for valuation of sales and purchase of goods and stock of goods as provided in the main part. The Explanation in this case clarifies/ explains that any tax, duty, cess or fee paid or incurred will have to be taken into account for valuation of goods even if such payment results in any benefit/ right to the person making the payment. This Explanation was necessary as otherwise in terms of Accounting Standard – (AS2) issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India provides that cost of goods would include the duties and taxes paid, other then the duties and taxes which give a right to recover the same from the taxing authorities – to illustrate duty draw back etc. Thus, the Explanation only seeks to clarify the fact that notwithstanding any right acquired on payment of taxes to recover the same from the government, for the purpose of Section 145A of the Act, the same cannot be excluded even though the AS2 provides otherwise. It does not even remotely deal with the issue of service tax.

(d) Further, it is to be noted that Service Tax was first introduced in India by Finance Act, 1994. Section 145A of the Act was first introduced into the Act only by Finance (No.2) Act, 1998 w.e.f. 1st April, 1999. It was thereafter substituted by Finance (No.2) Act, 2009 which is identical, except for addition of clause (b), dealing with interest. However, the Parliament did not while substituting it, deem it fit to explicitly include the valuation of Services therein. Thus, it is clear that the legislature never intended to restrict the applicability of Section 145A of the Act only to goods and not extend it to Services. As observed by the Apex Court in State of Bihar v/s. S. K. Roy AIR 1966 (SC) 1995:

“It is well recognized principle in dealing with construction that a subsequent legislation may be looked at in order to see what is the proper interpretation to be put upon an earlier Act where the earlier Act is obscure or capable of more then one interpretation.”

We must make it clear that we do not find any ambiguity in Section 145A of the Act as arising for our consideration. However, even if one were to assume the main part of Section 145A of the Act, is capable of more then one interpretation, the interpretation sought to be canvassed by the Revenue, is not sustainable. Therefore, Section 145A of the Act would have no application in cases where service is provided by the Assessee.

(e) In view of the above, the question (i) as proposed does not give rise to any substantial question of law. Thus, not entertained.

(f) Regarding question (ii) it is an admitted position before us that the assessee had not claimed any deduction on account of the service tax payable in order to determine its taxable income. In the above view, there can be no occasion to invoke Section 43B of the Act. The issue stands concluded against the Revenue by the decisions of this Court in Commissioner of Income Tax Vs. Ovira Logistics P. Ltd. 377 ITR 129 and Commissioner of Income Tax Vs. Calibre Personnel Services Pvt. Ltd. (Income Tax Appeal No. 158 of 2013) rendered on 2nd February, 2015.

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