Justice Sam P Bharucha vs. ACIT (ITAT Mumbai)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: October 5, 2012 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (Justice_Sam_P_Bharucha_14A.pdf)

No s. 14A disallowance in absence of “live nexus” between expenditure & tax-free income

The assessee earned tax-free income from shares and units and claimed that he had not incurred any expenditure on earning the tax-free income and so no disallowance u/s 14A was permissible. The AO & CIT(A) rejected the claim and disallowed Rs. 2.26 lakhs u/s 14A as expenditure incurred to earn the tax-free income. On appeal by the assessee to the Tribunal, HELD:

S. 14A has within it implicit notion of apportionment in cases where expenditure is incurred for composite/indivisible activities in which taxable and non-taxable income is received. But when it is possible to determine the actual expenditure in relation to exempt income or when no expenditure has been incurred in relation to exempt income, then the principle of apportionment embedded in s. 14 A has no application. For s. 14A to apply, there should be a proximate relationship between the expenditure and the tax-free income. If the assessee claims that no expenditure has been incurred for earning the exempt income, it is for the AO to determine as to whether the assessee had incurred any expenditure in relation to the tax-free income and, if so, to quantify the extent of disallowance. In order to disallow the expenditure u/s 14A, there must be a live nexus between the expenditure incurred and the income not forming part of total income. No notional expenditure can be apportioned for the purpose of earning exempt income unless there is an actual expenditure in relation to earning the tax-free income. If the expenditure is incurred with a view to earn taxable income and there is apparent dominant and immediate connection between the expenditure incurred and taxable income, then no disallowance can be made u/s 14A merely because some tax exempt income is received by the assessee. On facts, from the details of the expenditure, it is clear that the expenditure incurred by the assessee has direct nexus with the professional income of the assessee. It is not the case of the revenue that the assessee has used his official machinery and establishment for earning the exempt income. The AO has not given any finding that any of the expenditure incurred and claimed by the assessee is attributable for earning the exempt income. Consequently, s. 14A disallowance is not permissible (Pawan Kumar Parmeshwarlal (ITAT Mumbai) & Auchtel Products (ITAT Mumbai) followed).

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