Under the existing provisions of section 36(1)(viia) of the Income-tax Act, in computing the business income of certain banks and financial institutions, deduction is allowable in respect of any provision for bad and doubtful debts made by such entities subject to certain limits specified therein. The limit specified under section 36(1 )(viia)(a) of the Act restrict the claim of deduction for provision for bad and doubtful debts for certain banks (not incorporated outside India) and certain cooperative banks to 7.5% of gross total income (before deduction under this clause) of such banks and 10% of the aggregate average advance made by the rural branches of such banks. This limit is 5% of gross total income (before deduction under this clause) under sections 36(1)(viia)(b) and 36(1)(viia)(c) for a bank incorporated outside India and certain financial institutions.

Provisions of clause (vii) of section 36(1) of the Act provides for deduction for bad debt actually written off as irrecoverable in the books of account of the assessee. The proviso to this clause provides that for an assessee, to which section 36(1 )(viia) of the Act applies, deduction under said clause (vii) shall be limited to the amount by which the bad debt written off exceeds the credit balance in the provision for bad and doubtful debts account made under section 36(1) (viia) of the Act.

The provisions of section 36(1 )(vii) of the Act are subject to the provisions of section 36(2) of the Act. The clause (v) of section 36(2) of the Act provides that the assessee, to which section 36(1 )(viia) of the Act applies, should debit the amount of bad debt written off to the provision for bad and doubtful debts account made under section 36(1) (viia) of the Act.

Therefore, the banks or financial institutions are entitled to claim deduction for bad debt actually written off under section 36(1 )(vii) of the Act only to the extent it is in excess of the credit balance in the provision for bad and doubtful debts account made under section 36(1)(viia) of the Act. However, certain judicial pronouncements have created doubts about the scope and applicability of proviso to section 36(1)(vii) and held that the proviso to section 36(1)(vii) applies only to provision made for bad and doubtful debts relating to rural advances.

Section 36(1)(viia) of the Act contains three sub-clauses, i.e. sub-clause (a), sub-clause (b) and sub-clause (c) and only one of the sub-clauses i.e. sub-clause (a) refers to rural advances whereas other sub-clauses do not refer to the rural advances. In fact, foreign banks generally do not have rural branches. Therefore, the provision for bad and doubtful debts account made under clause (viia) of section 36(1) and referred to in proviso to clause (vii) of section 36(1) and section 36(2)(v) applies to all types of advances, whether rural or other advances.

It has also been interpreted that there are separate accounts in respect of provision for bad and doubtful debt under clause (viia) for rural advances and urban advances and if the actual write off of debt relates to urban advances, then, it should not be set off against provision for bad and doubtful debts made for rural advances. There is no such distinction made in clause (viia) of section 36(1).

In order to clarify the scope and applicability of provision of clause (vii), (viia) of sub-section (1) and sub-section (2), it is proposed to insert an Explanation in clause (vii) of section 36(1) stating that for the purposes of the proviso to section 36(1 )(vii) and section 36(2)(v), only one account as referred to therein is made in respect of provision for bad and doubtful debts under section 36(1)(viia) and such account relates to all types of advances, including advances made by rural branches. Therefore, for an assessee to which clause (viia) of section 36(1) applies, the amount of deduction in respect of the bad debts actually written off under section 36(1)(vii) shall be limited to the amount by which such bad debts exceeds the credit balance in the provision for bad and doubtful debts account made under section 36(1 )(viia) without any distinction between rural advances and other advances.

This amendment will take effect from 1st April, 2014 and will, accordingly, apply in relation to the assessment year 2014-15 and subsequent assessment years.

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Category : Income Tax (27505)
Type : Articles (17008)
Tags : Budget (1956)

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