S. 40(a)(ia) disallowance applies only to amounts “payable” as of 31st March and not to amounts already “paid” during the year. Merilyn Shipping (SB) approved

CIT vs. Vector Shipping Services (P) Ltd (Allahabad High Court)

The assessee engaged Mercator Lines Ltd to perform ship management work on behalf of the assessee for which it paid an amount of Rs. 1.17 crore. The assessee claimed that the amount paid by it to Mercator was a ‘reimbursement of salaries’ and that as Mercator had deducted TDS on the payments made by it to the employees; the assessee was not required to deduct TDS. The AO disagreed and disallowed the entire payment u/s 40(a)(ia). The Tribunal upheld the assessee’s claim and held that no TDS was required to be deducted on a reimbursement. It also relied on Merilyn Shipping and Transport Ltd 136 ITD 23 (SB) where it was held that s. 40(a)(ia) applied only to amounts that were “payable” as at the end of the year and not to amounts that had already been “paid” during the year. On appeal by the department, HELD dismissing the appeal:

The revenue cannot take any benefit from the observations made by the Special Bench of the Tribunal in Merilyn Shipping and Transport Ltd 136 ITD 23 (SB) to the effect that s. 40 (a) (ia) was introduced by the Finance Act, 2004 w.e.f. 1.4.2005 with a view to augment the revenue through the mechanism of tax deduction at source. S. 40(a)(ia) was brought on the statute to disallow the claim of even genuine and admissible expenses of the assessee under the head ‘Income from Business and Profession’ in case the assessee does not deduct TDS on such expenses. The default in deduction of TDS would result in disallowance of expenditure on which such TDS was deductible. On facts, tax was deducted as TDS from the salaries of the employees paid by Mercator Lines and the circumstances in which such salaries were paid by Mercator Lines for the assessee were sufficiently explained. It is to be noted that for disallowing expenses from business and profession on the ground that TDS has not been deducted, the amount should be payable and not which has been paid by the end of the year.

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