CA Manish J. Sheth

CA Manish J ShethThe caption heading of section 41(1) is ‘Profits Chargeable to tax’. The section falls under Chapter IV –Computation of Income from Business or Profession.

In business there are circumstances where a person might have incurred a liability but later on he need not have to pay it for one or other reason. The Income Tax Act brings to tax such liabilities which are no more payable.

The section brings in to its ambit benefit in cash or in kind obtained by a person by remission or cessation of liability. The only condition is that the person must have obtained a deduction or allowance in his computation of income for the said liability in any previous years.

To tabulate the same one needs to consider the following mandatory points,

  1. There has to be a remission or cessation of a liability or
  2. There has to be recovery of any loss or
  3. There has to be recovery of any expenditure
  4. The liability must be a trading liability and not on capital account
  5. The person is allowed deduction or allowance for the same in any previous year

Many a times a liability is written back in books of accounts for some or other reasons for which a person might not have claimed any deduction from income in previous years in such cases income tax department take recourse to section 28(iv) which brings to tax the value of any benefit or perquisite, whether convertible into money or not, arising from business or profession.

So the income tax department takes recourse to two sections to bring to tax any loss, expenditure or liability which might have been waived or not payable or obtained.

Please note that a person may write back liability in his books of accounts unilaterally, i.e. without consent of the payee or many a times a liability remains in existence continuously over reasonably long time and the payee does not write it back in his books of accounts then also section 41(1) comes in to operation and benefit is brought back to taxation by income tax department.

Given below are some case studies which will clarify how the modalities of these two sections operate in real life situations:

Case Study -1:-

A person has some liability towards acquisition of fixed assets and due to some reason the same is not payable in full or in part at a later date.

In such cases though the person has gained an advantage by not paying the liability, the second test which is regarding claim or any allowance or deduction is not satisfied. The acquisition of fixed asset is never allowed as a deduction. Hence the amount written back cannot be brought to tax. Secondly it also cannot be brought to tax u/s 28(iv) because 28(iv) refers to benefit in kind and not in cash. [Solid Containers Ltd. 308 ITR 407 (BOM)]

Someone may ask a question as to the depreciation claimed on such fixed assets in the past years. As per my point of view, the allowance of deprecation in previous years cannot be brought to tax because cessation of liability only pertains to the principal amount of fixed assets and not the depreciation on it. These two are different and have independent accounting and tax treatment. But the Hyderabad ITAT in the matter of Binjrajka Steel Tubes Ltd. v. ACIT 130 ITD 46 has taken a different view and observed that the assessee has obtained benefit of tax to the extent of depreciation allowance and brought such depreciation to tax.

Case Study -2:-

An assessee has borrowed a loan for purchasing a fixed asset and later on loan is waived or not paid.

Such cases are also not covered u/s 41(1) because though there is remission or cessation of a liability, a person has not claimed any deduction for the same in income tax in past. Hence section 41(1) is not applicable.

Case Study -3:-

An assessee gets waiver of Working Capital loan.

Waiver of working capital loan falls in the trap of section 41(1) and the waived amount is brought to tax. During the year 2004-05 till 2006-07 there were many such instances of loan waiver. The lender financial institutions and banks were asking their defaulting borrowers to accept OTS (one time settlement scheme) to recover its dues. The borrowers were offered reduction in principal payment, reduction in interest and complete waiver of penalty and interest.

In case the reduction is of term loan then section 41(1) does not apply as said earlier. However if the interest on term loan is reduced or waived then to that extend it is taxable. [Refer Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd 261 ITR 501 (BOM)]

In case reduction or waiver is of working capital loan then the whole amount waived is brought to tax. Reason being, in Cash Credit and debtors credit limits the interest is accumulated with the loan amount every quarter and is not separable from original credit limits.

Case Study -4:-

Liability outstanding for a very long period of time and not written back in account.

Many a times, there are instances where the person has standing liability in his books of accounts year after year. The person neither receives any payment against it nor writes it back in books of accounts. In such a situation, the Assessing officer takes the stand that the liability which is outstanding for a very long period ceases to be in existence either because the creditor is not demanding it or by operation of law it becomes barred by time. There are contradictory judgements of different courts, some in favour of the assessee and few against.

In recent times, an interesting case came up before the Mumbai Tribunal- ITO v/s Shailesh D. Shah ITA 7012/M/10 wherein it was held that the assessee has just continued the entry in his books of accounts without any intention to pay back the same and relied on Chipsoft Technology 210 Taxman 173 (Del) and confirmed addition of liability u/s 41(1).

It referred to Vardhaman Overseas Ltd. 343 ITR 408 (Del) wherein it was held that section 41(1) does not apply if the amount is not written back in the books of accounts.

Contrary to this, in CIT v/s Bhogilal Ramjibhai Atara (Guj) held that even if there is unclaimed liability of earlier years where even creditors are untraceable and liabilities are non-genuine, then also the addition cannot be made u/s 41(1) since assessee has not written it back in books of account.

Case Study -5:-

Net Present Value (NPV) of future liability is paid at a discounted rate.

This interesting case has come up before Mumbai special bench in the case of Sulzar India Ltd. v. JCIT ITA No. 2944/Mum-2007 wherein the assessee was enjoying sales tax deferral scheme from Maharashtra Government and it accumulated sales tax for 12 years for about 7.52 Crs. In the meanwhile sales tax dept had come out with an early repayment scheme wherein Suzlar was asked to pay Rs. 3.37 Crs. as onetime payment at NPV calculated at fixed interest rate. The IT Department treated this difference due to early repayment at NPV of Rs. 4.15 Crs. as remission of liability. The matter went upto the Special Bench and the Hon’ble Special Bench observed that in paying NPV the assessee has paid the equivalent value of the sum and hence there is no remission of liability.

Usually in every case, where there is a possible disallowance u/s 41(1), the Department surely takes support from the Hon’ble Supreme Court decision in the case of CIT vs. T.V. Sundaram Iyengar & Sons Ltd. reported in 222 ITR 344 SC (11/09/1996)

In this case trade security deposit received by the assessee and not payable later on was routed through Profit & Loss a/c. This case has gone against the assessee due to 3 reasons:

  1. It was a trade security deposit from debtors.
  2. It was reversed by crediting Profit & Loss a/c.
  3. It was a trade liability.

If any of these 3 components are present then it is not covered u/s 41(1).

In the case of Bombay Gas Co. Ltd. v/s ACIT (MUM) ITA no. 646 and 1188 of 2009, the Hon’ble High Court has observed that it is settled law that if the loan was taken for acquiring the capital asset, waiver thereof would not amount to any income eligible to tax. On the other hand, if this loan was for trading purpose and was treated as such from the very beginning in the books of account, as per T.V. Sundaram Iyengar & Sons Ltd.’s case, the waiver thereof may result in the income more so when it was transferred to Profit and Loss account.

The High Court also distinguished T.V. Sundaram Iyengar & Sons Ltd. (SC) and Solid Containers Ltd. (BOM).

In the light of above discussions and various judicial pronouncements, one should be very careful in giving treatment of unclaimed trade or otherwise long term liability in the books of accounts.

(Author may be contacted at E-mail: manishjshethca@gmail.com)

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17 responses to “Analysis of Section 41(1) of Income Tax Act, 1961”

  1. balaji says:

    Sir pl clarify the following
    The partners of a firm have agreed to take over some of the trading liabilities of the firm and accordingly the journal entries are passed.
    Whether the provisions of remission of trade liabilities will be attracted here

  2. Mohammad Shujatullah says:

    If,Loan amount shown in balance sheet is less than the loan amount shown in the bank statement for NPA accounts, in such a case is it correct to add the difference as un explained investment and treat the same as income, by AO..
    Kindly advise …

  3. Chandra Goud says:

    My company having loan against fixed assets from sister concern no its waive off in two company books then what is the procedure and tax implication please clariry

  4. Archana says:

    If my client is builder. by mistake kept entry of unsecured loan as outstanding which was already paid in 2008 then what will be its effect in 2012.does AO will add u/s 41(1)

  5. Srihari says:

    Sir, in case of reversal of Provision for bad and doubtful debts, earlier allowed as deduction u/s 36(1)(via), whether covered under section 41?

  6. manish says:

    Dear Ripon,

    In case you have written back in subsequent years then you can always show to AO that you waited for long time and then decided to unilaterally write it off.

    He is not suppose to add in previous years under scrutiny.

  7. Ripon Sarkar says:

    Dear Sir,
    I have recently written of the sundry creditors balances in the FY 2012-13,2013-14 which were lying for several years before FY 2011-12 and FY 11-12 under scrutiny if there is any possibility of addition of the balances written of kindly let me know and make me understand the application of the section 41(1) with a example if the creditors are not genuine or traceable.

    Thanking you,

    Have a nice time,

  8. Abhay Shastri says:

    Nicely written!
    Also see The Mula Pravara Elec. Co-op. society vs CIT ITAT Pune bench decision, where all angles were very nicely discussed. The case was won on the fact that though there was cessation of liability, no benefits accrued to the Assessee.

  9. CA MANISH J. SHETH (AUTHOR) says:

    DEAR CA MANISH VAKIL,

    Thanks for appreciating and recognizing my efforts.

  10. MANISH P. VAKIL says:

    Manishbhai,

    Very good Article. Keep it up.

    Manish Vakil

  11. Nailesh Kothari says:

    Good and concise article. Only those matters which are likely to be adverse to “a” such as non write off of untraceable / long overdue creditors, should be advised against.

  12. CA MANISH J. SHETH (AUTHOR) says:

    Dear CA JV GURURAJ ,

    Thanks for appreciating.

    Rgs,

    CA Manish J. Sheth

  13. CA MANISH J. SHETH (AUTHOR) says:

    Dear Amulya Kumar Pradhan,

    Your query is very interesting. First of all please note that there are two different items involved in assest procuring process. First capital subsidy from govt on acquisition of asset and second loan waiver at a later date. In capital subsidy case one has to reduce the subsidy from cost of the asset in beginning and on balance claim the depreciation.This was just additional information which has no connection with our write up and query.

    Secondly about the waiver of term loan against fixed asset. If value of fixed asset is more then waived amount the one can reduce the value of fixed asset by waiver amount in the year of waiver and reverse the depreciation already claimed on waiver amount and offer for tax depreciation amount.

    In case asset value is not same as waived amount which might be below waived amount then write back excess waived amount through capital reserve account and do not route through P&L credit.

  14. Amulya Kumar Pradhan, ACA says:

    Sir,
    A very nice presentation through clear understandable examples. Can u pls discuss about the accounting treatment in the books of account of the assess with regard to the point no.1, where a loan for capital assets is waived out. will the depreciation amount not to be written back?? As the asset value will not be the at the time of waiver of loan amount.

  15. JV GURURAJ says:

    This article is a very good piece of information which is very needed for all tax professionals.Thanks for the writer.

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