Tuesday, May 9, 2017

S.14A disallowance has to be made also with respect to dividend on shares and units on which tax is payable by the payer u/s 115-O & 115-R. Argument that such dividends are not tax-free in the hands of the payee is not correct. S. 14A cannot be invoked in the absence of proof that expenditure has actually been incurred in earning the dividend income. If the AO has accepted for earlier years that no such expenditure has been incurred, he cannot take a contrary stand for later years if the facts and circumstances have not changed

Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd vs. DCIT (Supreme Court)

While it is correct that Section 10(33) exempts only dividend income under Section 115-O of the Act and there are other species of dividend income on which tax is levied under the Act, we do not see how the said position in law would assist the assessee in understanding the provisions of Section 14A in the manner indicated. What is required to be construed is the provisions of Section 10(33) read in the light of Section 115-O of the Act. So far as the species of dividend income on which tax is payable under Section 115-O of the Act is concerned, the earning of the said dividend is tax free in the hands of the assessee and not includible in the total income of the said assessee. If that is so, we do not see how the operation of Section 14A of the Act to such dividend income can be foreclosed. The fact that Section 10(33) and Section 115-O of the Act were brought in together; deleted and reintroduced later in a composite manner, also, does not assist the assessee. Rather, the aforesaid facts would countenance a situation that so long as the dividend income is taxable in the hands of the dividend paying company, the same is not includible in the total income of the recipient assessee. At such point of time when the said position was reversed (by the Finance Act of 2002; reintroduced again by the Finance Act, 2003), it was the assessee who was liable to pay tax on such dividend income. In such a situation the assessee was entitled under Section 57 of the Act to claim the benefit of exemption of expenditure incurred to earn such income. Once Section 10(33) and 115-O was reintroduced the position was reversed. The above, actually fortifies the situation that Section 14A 44 of the Act would operate to disallow deduction of all expenditure incurred in earning the dividend income under Section 115-O which is not includible in the total income of the assessee.