Cash credits under section 68 of the Act

Section 68 of the Act provides that if any sum is found credited in the books of an assessee and such assessee either

(i) does not offer any explanation about nature and source of money; or

(ii) the explanation offered by the assessee is found to be not satisfactory by the Assessing Officer, then, such amount can be taxed as income of the assessee.

The onus of satisfactorily explaining such credits remains on the person in whose books such sum is credited. If such person fails to offer an explanation or the explanation is not found to be satisfactory then the sum is added to the total income of the person. Certain judicial pronouncements have created doubts about the onus of proof and the requirements of this section, particularly, in cases where the sum which is credited as share capital, share premium etc.

Judicial pronouncements, while recognizing that the pernicious practice of conversion of unaccounted money through masquerade of investment in the share capital of a company needs to be prevented, have advised a balance to be maintained regarding onus of proof to be placed on the company. The Courts have drawn a distinction and emphasized that in case of private placement of shares the legal regime should be different from that which is followed in case of a company seeking share capital from the public at large.

In the case of closely held companies, investments are made by known persons. Therefore, a higher onus is required to be placed on such companies besides the general onus to establish identity and credit worthiness of creditor and genuineness of transaction. This additional onus, needs to be placed on such companies to also prove the source of money in the hands of such shareholder or persons making payment towards issue of shares before such sum is accepted as genuine credit. If the company fails to discharge the additional onus, the sum shall be treated as income of the company and added to its income.

It is, therefore, proposed to amend section 68 of the Act to provide that the nature and source of any sum credited, as share capital, share premium etc., in the books of a closely held company shall be treated as explained only if the source of funds is also explained by the assessee company in the hands of the resident shareholder. However, even in the case of closely held companies, it is proposed that this additional onus of satisfactorily explaining the source in the hands of the shareholder, would not apply if the shareholder is a well regulated entity, i.e. a Venture Capital Fund, Venture Capital Company registered with the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

This amendment will take effect from 1st April, 2013 and will, accordingly, apply in relation to the assessment year 2013-14 and subsequent years.

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September 2021