|DATE:||(Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||February 9, 2012 (Date of publication)|
|Click here to download the judgement (virtual_lease_equalisation_charge.pdf)|
In a finance lease, claim for “lease equalization charge” as per ICAI Guidelines is allowable
The assessee received lease charges and claimed a reduction towards “lease equalization charges” on the ground that reduction was in accordance with the Guidance Note dated 20.09.1995 issued by the ICAI in respect of Accounting for Leases and the Accounting Standard AS-1 notified u/s 145 which mandated that the accounting policy of the assessee should represent a true and fair view. The AO & CIT (A) rejected the claim on the ground that it was a “notional charge” and that the accounting guidelines could not override the Act. The Tribunal (38 SOT 412), however, allowed the claim. On appeal by the department, HELD dismissing the appeal:
(i) As the method for accounting for lease rentals was based on the Guidance Note “Accounting For Leases” issued by the ICAI, the AO was not entitled to disregard the same. The Guidance Note reflects the best practices adopted by accountants the world over and the fact that it was not mandatory is irrelevant. The ICAI is recognized as the body vested with the authority to recommend Accounting Standards for ultimate prescription by the Central Government u/s 211(3C) of the Companies Act. Also AS-1 pertaining to Disclosure of Accounting Policies has mandatory status for periods commencing on or after 01.04.1991. The change by the assessee in the policy of accounting for leases had the imprimatur of the ICAI and so the AO was not entitled to disregard the books of accounts or the method of accounting for leases;
(ii) The department’s contention that the “lease equalization charge” is a claim in the form of a deduction which cannot be allowed as there is no provision under the Act is based on a complete misappreciation of what constitutes a lease equalization charge. As the transaction was a finance lease, the charge had to be provided as per the ICAI Guidelines. As long as the method employed for accounting of income meets with the rudimentary principles of accountancy, one of which, includes offering only revenue income for tax, no fault can be found with the assessee debiting lease equalization charges in its profit and loss account. This represented the true and fair view of the accounts; a statutory requirement u/s 211(2) of the Companies Act, enabled determination of real income.