|COURT:||Bombay High Court|
|CORAM:||A. K. Menon J., M. S. Sanklecha J|
|CATCH WORDS:||business expenditure, foerign tax|
|DATE:||December 20, 2016 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||December 21, 2016 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|S. 40(a)(ii): Foreign taxes are not hit by the bar in s. 40(a)(ii) and are deductible on the real income theory. After the insertion of the Explanation to s. 40(a)(ii) by the FA 2006, foreign taxes are not deductible only to the extent they are eligible for relief u/s 90 & 91. Amounts not eligible for DIT relief are deductible. The Explanation is declaratory and has retrospective effect|
(i) This Court in Inder Singh Gill v/s. CIT 47 ITR 284 was required to answer the question whether for the purpose of computing total world income of the assessee as defined in Section 2(15) of the I. T. Act, the income accruing in Uganda has to be reduced by the tax paid to the Uganda Government in respect of such income? The Court while answering the question in the negative observed that it is not aware of any commercial principle / practice which lays down that the tax paid by one on one’s income is allowed as a deduction in determining the income for the purposes of taxation.
(ii) It is axiomatic that income tax is a charge on the profits/ income. The payment of income tax is not a payment made / incurred to earn profits and gains of business. Therefore, it cannot be allowed an as expenditure to determine the profits of the business. Taxes such as Excise Duty, Customs Duty, Octroi etc., are incurred for the purpose of doing business and earning profits and/or gains from business or profession. Therefore, such expenditure is allowable as a deduction to determine the profits of the business. It is only after deducting all expenses incurred for the purpose of business from the total receipts that profits and/or gains of business/ profession are determined. It is this determined profits or gains of business/profession which are subject to tax as income tax under the Act. The main part of Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act does not allow deduction in computing the income i.e. profits and gains of business chargeable to tax to the extent, the tax is levied/ paid on the profits/ gains of business. Therefore, it was on the aforesaid general principle, universally accepted, that this Court answered the question posed to it in Inder Singh Gill (supra) in favour of the Revenue.
(iii) We would have answered the question posed for our consideration by following the decision of this Court in Inder Singh Gill (supra). However, we notice that the decision of this Court in Inder Singh Gill (supra) was rendered under the Indian Income Tax Act, 1922 and not under the Act. We further note that just as Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act does not allow deduction on tax paid on profit and/or gain of business. The Indian Income Tax Act, 1922 Act also contains a similar provision in Section 10(4) thereof. However, the Indian Income Tax Act, 1922 contains no definition of “tax” as provided in Section 2(43) of the Act. Consequently, the tax paid on income / profits and gains of business / profession anywhere in the world would not be allowed as deduction for determining the profits / gains of the business under Section 10(4) of the Indian Tax Act, 1922. Therefore, on the state of the statutory provisions as found in the Indian Income Tax Act, 1922 the decision of this Court in Inder Singh Gill (supra) would be unexceptionable. However, the ratio of the aforesaid decision in Inder Singh Gill (supra) cannot be applied to the present facts in view of the fact that the Act defines “tax” as income tax chargeable under the provisions of this Act. Thus, by definition, the tax which is payable under the Act alone on the profits and gains of business are not allowed to be deducted notwithstanding Sections 30 to 38 of the Act.
(iv) It therefore, follows that the tax which has been paid abroad would not be covered within the meaning of Section 40(a) (ii) of the Act in view of the definition of the word ‘tax’ in Section 2(43) of the Act. To be covered by Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act, it has to be payable under the Act. We are conscious of the fact that Section 2 of the Act, while defining the various terms used in the Act, qualifies it by preceding the definition with the word “In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires” the meaning of the word ‘tax’ as found in Section 2(43) of the Act would apply wherever it occurs in the Act. It is not even urged by the Revenue that the context of Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act would require it to mean tax paid anywhere in the world and not only tax payable/ paid under the Act.
(v) However, to the extent tax is paid abroad, the Explanation to Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act provides / clarifies that whenever an Assessee is otherwise entitled to the benefit of double income tax relief under Sections 90 or 91 of the Act, then the tax paid abroad would be governed by Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act. The occasion to insert the Explanation to Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act arose as Assessee was claiming to be entitled to obtain necessary credit to the extent of the tax paid abroad under Sections 90 or 91 of the Act and also claim the benefit of tax paid abroad as expenditure on account of not being covered by Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act. This is evident from the Explanatory notes to the Finance Act, 2006 as recorded in Circular No.14 of 2006 dated 28th December, 2006 issued by the CBDT. The above circular inter alia, records the fact that some of the assessee who are eligible for credit against the tax payable in India on the global income to the extent the tax has been paid outside India under Sections 90 or 91 of the Act, were also claiming deduction of the tax paid abroad as it was not tax under the Act. In view of the above, Explanation inserted in 2006 to Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act, would require in the context thereof that the definition of the word “tax” under the Act to mean also the tax which is eligible to the benefit of Sections 90 and 91 of the Act. However, this departure from the meaning of the word “tax” as defined in the Act is only restricted to the above and gives no license to widen the meaning of the word “tax” as defined in the Act to include all taxes on income / profits paid abroad.
(vi) Therefore, on the Explanation being inserted in Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act, the tax paid in Saudi Arabia on income which has accrued and / or arisen in India is not eligible to deduction under Section 91 of the Act. Therefore, not hit by Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act. Section 91 of the Act, itself excludes income which is deemed to accrue or arise in India. Thus, the benefit of the Explanation would now be available and on application of real income theory, the quantum of tax paid in Saudi Arabia, attributable to income arising or accruing in India would be reduced for the purposes of computing the income on which tax is payable in India.
(vii) It is not disputed before us that some part of the income on which the tax has been paid abroad is on the income accrued or arisen in India. Therefore, to the extent, the tax is paid abroad on income which has accrued and/or arisen in India, the benefit of Section 91 of the Act is not available. In such a case, an Assessee such as the applicant assessee is entitled to a deduction under Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act. This is so as it is a tax which has been paid abroad for the purpose of arriving global income on which the tax payable in India. Therefore, to the extent the payment of tax in Saudi Arabia on income which has arisen / accrued in India has to be considered in the nature of expenditure incurred or arisen to earn income and not hit by the provisions of Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act. (q) The Explanation to Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act was inserted into the Act by Finance Act, 2006. However, the use of the words “for removal of dobuts” it is hereby declared “…….” in the Explanation inserted in Section 40(a)(ii) of the Act, makes it clear that it is declaratory in nature and would have retrospective effect. This is not even disputed by the Revenue before us as the issue of the nature of such declaratory statutes stands considered by the decision of the Supreme Court in CIT Vs. Vatika Township (P) Ltd. 367 ITR 466 and CIT Vs. Gold Coin Health Foods (P) Ltd. 304 ITR 308.