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DATE: December 11, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: December 23, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2015-16
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(i) The fact that profits of foreign branches of a resident are taxed outside India under tax treaties does not imply that the said income is not taxable in India. The entire global income has to be taxed in India. The assesseee is entitled to credit for taxes paid abroad, as admissible under the treaty or the domestic law. (ii) S. 115JB applies to banking companies after the 2012 amendment. Even profits of foreign branches which are taxed under the tax treaties are also liable for MAT. (iii) The argument that S. 90 overrides S. 115JB and so the incomes taxed abroad should be excluded from taxation of book profits u/s 115 JB is not correct. Treaty protection come normally into play for taxation of a non-resident in India, i.e. source country taxation, and not for taxation of a resident in whose hands global income is to be taxed anyway. All that one gets in the residence jurisdiction, by the virtue of tax treaties, is tax credits for the taxes paid abroad.

The effect of Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgment in Kulandagan Chettiar (267 ITR 654) that income taxable in the source jurisdiction under the treaty provisions cannot be included in total income of the assessee is clearly overruled by the legislative developments. It is specifically legislated that the mere fact of taxability in the treaty partner jurisdiction will not take it out of the ambit of taxable income of an assessee in India and that “such income shall be included in his total income chargeable to tax in India in accordance with the provisions of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961), and relief shall be granted in accordance with the method for elimination or avoidance of double taxation provided in such agreement”. A coordinate bench of this Tribunal, in the case of Essar Oil Ltd (supra) also proceeded to hold that this notification was retrospective in effect inasmuch as it applied with effect from 1st April 2004 i.e. the date on which sub-section 3 was introduced in Section 90.

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DATE: December 4, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: December 18, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2014-15
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(i) A representative office of a foreign enterprise is not a taxable unit. The foreign enterprise is the taxable unit. A return of income filed in the name of the representative office, with the PAN of the enterprise, offering only the income of the representative office & excluding the other Indian income of the enterprise is not proper. However, as the error is inadvertent and without any consequences in terms of loss of revenue, a pragmatic approach must be adopted and the assessee should not be subjected to avoidable inconvenience (ii) As regards the taxability of interest income under the India-Germany DTAA, as the debt claim in question was not "effectively connected" to the alleged PE, the exclusion article 11(5) was not triggered and the taxability under article 7 does not come into play (Entire law discussed in detail)

It is an undisputed fact that the entire related interest income has been brought to tax in the hands of the foreign enterprise, even though on gross basis under article 11. In case any income is brought to tax on account of ALP adjustment, and bearing in mind the fact that such an income will also be relatable to earning the same interest income, it will indeed result in a situation that for revenue of ‘x’ amount earned from India, what will become taxable in India will be an amount more than ‘x’ amount- something which is clearly incongruous. The taxable amount in a tax jurisdiction cannot, under any circumstances, be more than the entire revenue itself in that jurisdiction. In this view of the matter, even an income on account of ALP adjustment for free rendition of services by the Indian representative office to the foreign enterprise itself- even if that be treated as an associated enterprise and a hypothetically independent entity, in the cases of banks where entire interest revenues are taxed on gross basis, is ruled out.

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DATE: December 1, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: December 18, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2015-16
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Section 40(a)(i) is a restriction on deductibility of expenses u/s 30 to 38. If the related expenditure is not claimed as a deduction u/s 30 to 38, this disallowance cannot be pressed into service at all. As the assessee is an advertisement agency and advertisements are placed by the assessee on behalf of its clients, there is ordinarily no occasion to claim the costs of advertisements as deduction in computation of its business income. The revenues, in the case of advertisement agencies, consist of only the commission received in respect of the advertisements so placed

Unless a claim for deduction in respect of payments made to Facebook Ireland Limited is made in the computation of business income, there cannot be any occasion for invoking section 40(a)(i) for its disallowance in computation of business income. As we have analyzed earlier also in this order, section 40(a)(i) acts as a restriction on the deductibility of expenses under section 30 to 38, and, as a corollary to this legal position, when the related expenditure is not claimed as deduction under section 30 to 38, this disallowance cannot be pressed into service at all

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DATE: October 16, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: November 21, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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The principles of natural justice have undergone a sea change. The earlier view that even a small violation would result in the order being rendered a nullity is not correct. Some real prejudice must be caused to the complainant by the refusal to follow natural justice. The prejudice must not merely be the apprehension of a litigant. No prejudice is caused to the person complaining of the breach of natural justice where such person does not dispute the case against him or it. There is a clear distinction between cases where there was no hearing at all and the cases where there was mere technical infringement of the principle (All imp judgements referred)

Natural justice is a flexible tool in the hands of the judiciary to reach out in fit cases to remedy injustice. The breach of the audi alteram partem rule cannot by itself, without more, lead to the conclusion that prejudice is thereby caused. Where procedural and/or substantive provisions of law embody the principles of natural justice, their infraction per se does not lead to invalidity of the orders passed. Here again, prejudice must be caused to the litigant, except in the case of a mandatory provision of law which is conceived not only in individual interest, but also in public interest.

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DATE: September 15, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: November 7, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2006-07
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Interpretation of statutes & DTAAs: The substitution of a provision results in repeal of earlier provision and its replacement by new provision. When a new rule in place of an old rule is substituted, the old one is never intended to keep alive and the substitution has the effect of deleting the old rule and making the new rule operative. Though Notification dated 18.07.2005 (which substitutes paragraph 12 of Article 12 of the DTAA to provide for levy of tax on the royalties or fees for technical services at a rate not exceeding 10%) issued u/s 90 came into force with effect from 01.08.2005, it applies to the entire fiscal year

Before proceeding further, we may advert to well settled rules of Interpretation with regard to taxing statutes. The substitution of a provision results in repeal of earlier provision and its replacement by new provision. [See: U.P.SUGAR MILLS ASSN. VS. STATE OF U.P.’, (2002) 2 SCC 645]. The aforesaid principle of law was reiterated by the Supreme Court in WEST UP SUGAR MILS ASSOCIATION V. STATE OF UP (2012) 2 SCC 773 and by this Court in GOVARDHAN M V. STATE OF KARNATAKA (2013) 1 KarLJ 497. When a new rule in place of an old rule is substituted, the old one is never intended to keep alive and the substitution has the effect of deleting the old rule and making the new rule operative.

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DATE: October 14, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: October 31, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2006-07
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S. 68 Bogus Cash Credits: The Revenue can examine the source of the source. Merely pointing out to a source and the source admitting that it has made the payments is not sufficient to discharge the burden placed on the assessees by s. 68. Otherwise, it would be sufficient for assessees to simply persuade some credit-less person to own up having made such huge payments and thereby evade payment of tax on the specious plea that the Revenue can always recover the tax from such credit-less source. The explanation has to be plausible and backed by reliable evidence. 'Fantastic or unacceptable' explanations are not acceptable (All imp verdicts on s. 68 referred)

If the ITAT were to have considered the aforesaid circumstances, which, according to us, the ITAT was duty-bound to, we are quite sure that the ITAT would not have, nevertheless, found the so-called explanation of the assessees acceptable or in compliance with the provisions of Section 68 of the said Act. Rather we are inclined to believe, that the ITAT too, would have found the so-called explanation of the assessees too fantastic to deserve any acceptance. In Mussadilal Ram Bharose 1987(2) SCC 39, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has cautioned against acceptance of any ‘fantastic’ or ‘unacceptable’ explanations in tax matters

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DATE: September 10, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: October 31, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 1999-2000 to 2002-03
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S. 69/69A HSBC Bank Black Money: The AO has to prove that the money belongs to the assessee. If the assessee files necessary evidences to prove that the unexplained money does not belongs to him, the onus shift to the revenue to prove that the unexplained money in fact belongs to the assessee. Unless the AO proves that unexplained money is belongs to the person, he cannot make any addition in the hands of the assessee. The fact that the assessee is a joint holder of the bank account does not mean that the money belongs to him if the evidence suggests that the money belongs to the other holder

It is the case of the Ld. AO that account with HSBC bank , Geneva is opened by resident Indian and black money earned by such resident Indian has been stashed abroad without paying taxes/disclosing income in India. But, fact remains that in the instant case, the account was opened in 1998, when the assessee himself and Mr. Dipak Galani permanently resided in outside India for 30 years and had no intention to come to India at that time. Further, both of them have no source of income in India, during the course of their residence abroad. Therefore, we are of the view that entire motive as presented by the Ld. AO defines all logic of opening of a secret bank account in Geneva, by NRI to stash unaccounted income taxable in India fails. The ld. AO mechanically disregarding all explanations furnished by the assessee as to the ownership of the account along with the corroborative materials is contrary to the settled position of law, because, once assessee has provided a reasonable explanation about ownership, then the onus was on the Ld. AO to establish that account belongs to the assessee.

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DATE: February 3, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: September 21, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2007-08, 2008-09
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Transfer Pricing: (i) The OECD guidelines recognise that barring exceptional cases, the tax administration should not disregard the actual transaction or substitute other transactions for them. The examination of a controlled transaction should ordinarily be based on the transaction as it has been actually undertaken and structured by the associated enterprises. The guidelines discourage restructuring of legitimate business transactions (ii) The finding by the Tribunal regarding the adoption of TNMM as the Most Appropriate Method of arriving at ALP cannot be termed as perverse or contrary to the evidence on record. Difference of opinion as to the appropriateness of one or the other method cannot be gone into in a s. 260A appeal

The significance of the aforesaid guidelines lies in the fact that they recognise that barring exceptional cases, the tax administration should not disregard the actual transaction or substitute other transactions for them and the examination of a controlled transaction should ordinarily be based on the transaction as it has been actually undertaken and structured by the associated enterprises. It is of further significance that the guidelines discourage restructuring of legitimate business transactions. The reason for characterisation of such restructuring as an arbitrary exercise, as given in the guidelines, is that it has the potential to create double taxation if the other tax administration does not share the same view as to how the transaction should be structured.

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DATE: September 15, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: September 19, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2015-16 to 2017-18
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S. 68 r.w.s. 115BBE: It is evident from entries found in cash book and from statement recorded from assessee in course of survey that assessee purchased gold in period of demonetization which was obviously for sale to persons on receiving cash from them as the same is normal practice of gold trade. The gold purchased in period of demonetization was towards agreed sale to persons on receiving amount therefor from those persons. Thus the source of payment for purchase of gold is out of amount received from its sales and so it is to be treated as properly explained. It is only profit on sale of said purchased gold which is income of assessee which was undisclosed income of assessee and the same could only be subjected to tax. It is settled law that in case of unaccounted sales only profit therefrom could only be taxed as income of assessee

The payment for purchase gold is not made by assessee from his own but the same is either settled by direct payment to seller by buyer and/or payment made from advance from customer or credit from sales as per normal trade practice. The assessee admitted such profit at Rs. 45,00,000/- and disclosed that income in PMGKY, 2016 and paid due tax thereon. The assessee has not noted name(s) of person(s) whom gold was sold by him. In unrecorded transactions neither the purchaser informs his name neither assessee require it as the dealing ins cash based and even if name and address is given the person will not be found there or will deny it. Thus when the entries clearly reveals that transactions are of unrecorded purchase and sale of gold which A.O. also admits in assessment order than simply that name & address of purchasers are not provided the entire amount of sale cannot in law betreated as undisclosed income, only profit earned from said transactions which has been admitted by assessee at Rs. 45,00,000/- can only be assessed to tax

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DATE: September 11, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: September 12, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 1976-77
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(i) To decide whether a particular source is business income, one has to look to the notions of what is the business activity. The activity must have a set purpose. The fact that the assessee does not carry on business activity for profit motive is not material as profit making is not an essential ingredient (ii) The Act requires determination of ‘real income’ on the basis of ordinary commercial principles of accountancy. To determine the ‘real income’, permissible expenses are required to be set off. Every application of income towards business objective of the assessee is a business expenditure and nothing else (iii) Mediation inter se the Government authorities or Government departments is an efficacious remedy. A Committee of legal experts presided by a retired Judge can give its imprimatur to the settlement (iv) A vibrant system of Advance Ruling can go a long way in reducing taxation litigation. This is true even of disputes between the taxation department and private persons, who are more than willing to comply with the law of the land but find some ambiguity.

In the case of a business, the profits must be arrived at on ordinary commercial principles. The scheme of the IT Act requires the determination of ‘real income’ on the basis of ordinary commercial principles of accountancy. To determine the ‘real income’, permissible expenses are required to be set off. There is, thus, a clear distinction between deductions made for ascertaining real profits and thereafter distributions made out of profits.The distribution would be application of income. There is also a distinction between real profits ascertained on commercial principles and profits fixed by a statute for a specific purpose. Income tax is a tax on real income.