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Case Law Details

Case Name : Prakash Industries Ltd Vs ACIT (ITAT Delhi)
Appeal Number : ITA No. 349/Del/2010
Date of Judgement/Order : 05/01/2024
Related Assessment Year : 2006-07

Prakash Industries Ltd Vs ACIT (ITAT Delhi)

In the realm of taxation, the concept of Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) often sparks debates and interpretations, especially concerning its applicability on various expenses incurred by businesses. The case of Prakash Industries Ltd Vs ACIT (Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Delhi) sheds light on such debates, offering insights into the argumentation surrounding FBT and the final determination on different expense items.

Background

The appeal arose against the order of the Commissioner of Income Tax (CIT), Rohtak, for the Assessment Year (A.Y.) 2006-07. Prakash Industries Ltd, the assessee, contested the disallowance of certain expenses under the ambit of FBT, as determined by the Assessing Officer (AO) and upheld by the CIT (Appeals).

Grounds of Appeal

The assessee challenged the disallowance of expenses related to traveling and conveyance, vehicle maintenance, and staff welfare under the 20% category of FBT. Specifically, the contested expenses were as follows:

  • Travelling & Conveyance: Rs. 4,05,565
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Rs. 16,21,509
  • Staff Welfare: Rs. 4,65,286 (Medical Expenses), Rs. 1,05,987 (Refreshments), and Rs. 1,82,455 (Pre-operative Expenses)

Arguments Presented

The Assessee’s Argument: The assessee contended that certain expenses, such as taxi and jeep hire charges for employees in remote areas, did not attract FBT as per Section 115WB(3) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Additionally, expenses incurred for vehicle hire and medical reimbursements to employees were argued to be exempt from FBT.

The Assessing Officer’s Argument: The Assessing Officer maintained that the expenses in question were liable for FBT, thereby disallowing the exemptions claimed by the assessee. The AO’s stance was based on the interpretation of relevant provisions of the Income Tax Act and existing judicial precedents.

Deliberations and Decision

The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) scrutinized the arguments presented by both parties and evaluated the merits of each expense item. The tribunal made the following observations and determinations:

  • Travelling & Conveyance: Expenses incurred for providing transport services in remote areas where public transport connectivity was absent were deemed exempt from FBT. Similarly, expenses related to taxi hire charges not involving an employer-employee relationship were also considered exempt.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Certain vehicle hire charges were determined to be for the benefit of guests and not employees, thus not liable for FBT. Moreover, expenses such as insurance, registration, and car loan repayments were found to fall outside the purview of FBT.
  • Staff Welfare Expenses: Medical expenses reimbursed to employees and expenditures on refreshments for workers were deemed exempt from FBT as they constituted perquisites under Section 17 of the Income Tax Act.

Conclusion

The ITAT, considering relevant provisions of the Income Tax Act and judicial precedents, ruled in favor of the assessee. It upheld the exemptions claimed on various expenses, limiting the disallowance of FBT to Rs. 5,56,161, computed at 20% of the total contested expenses.

The case of Prakash Industries Ltd Vs ACIT (ITAT Delhi) underscores the importance of meticulous interpretation of tax laws and regulations concerning FBT. It highlights the significance of providing substantiated arguments backed by legal provisions and precedents to justify exemptions and avoid unnecessary tax liabilities on legitimate business expenses.

FULL TEXT OF THE ORDER OF ITAT DELHI

The present appeal has been filed by the assessee against the order of Ld.CIT, Rohtak dated 31.12.2009 for the A.Y. 2006-­07.

2. The assessee has raised the following grounds of appeal are as under:-

1. That on the facts and circumstances of the case and in law, the Commissioner of Income Tax (Apppeals), rohtak {Briefly the CIT(A)} erred in upholding disallowance in the value of Fringe Benefit.

2. That on the facts and circumstances of the case and in law, the CIT(A) erred in upholding the following expenditures under 20% category of FBT.

a) Travelling & conveyance –  4,05565
b) Vehicle Maintenance – 16,21,509
c) Staff Welfare

i)Medical Exp.

ii) Staff welfare incentive

4,65,286

1,05,987

d) Staff welfare pre operative 1,82,455
  27,80,802

3. The captioned appeal is in respect of Fringe Benefit Tax (“FBT”) against the order passed by the Ld. Assessing Officer (“AO”) under section 115WE(3) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (“the Act”).

4. The assessee computed value of FBT at Rs. 1,13,86,653/- while filing return after claiming certain expenses as exempt from FBT. Out of the said exempt expenses, the Ld. AO added Rs. 27,31,879/- as the value of FBT to the returned income of the assessee. The Ld. Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) (“CIT (A)”) restricted the disallowance to Rs. 5,56,161/-being the value of FBT computed @20% of Rs. 27,80,802/-).

5. The details of expenses disallowed by the Ld. AO as exempt and sustained by the Ld. CIT (A) against which the assessee is in appeal are as under:

S. No

Particulars Amount Explanation
I Travelling Expenses Submissions filed before CIT (A) are at pages 4-5 of the PB.
1.

 

Taxi and jeep hire charges (Crushing division – Koira)

 

3,04,680

 

Details at page 22-23 of the PB – Free or subsidized transport service to employees from their residence to place of work at Koira, Odissa, where crushing plant of the assessee was situated and back to home is not liable to FBT. Exception u/s Section 115WB(3). Also Refer CBDT Circular No. 8/2005 dated 29.08.2005 – FAQ-104. The place where crushing plant was situated was in a remote area having no connectivity with public transport.
2. Taxi Hire charges (Sponge Iron division- Champa) 75,385 Details at page 20 of the PB – No employer-employee relationship exists between parties which is pre-requisite to levy FBT. Hence, exempt from FBT. Section 115WA – Refer CBDT Circular No. 8/2005 dated 29.08.2005 – FAQ-1
3. Travelling and others (Picture Tube – Pithampura) 25,500 Details at page 19 of the PB. Expenses are relating to tour of employees from Kolkata-Delhi-Kolkata from 10th June, 2005 to 14th June, 2005 and 13th March, 2006 to 15th March, 2006. Expenses are not in relation to conveyance but tour. As per Section 115WB(2)(Q) read with Section 115WC(1)(e) value of FBT on account of tour and travel (including foreign travel) shall be computed @ 5% of the expense.
II. Vehicle maintenance
1.

 

Vehicle hire charges (Sponge Iron division- Champa)

 

16,21,509

 

Details are at attached. The expense includes:

a. Vehicle hire charges for guest from city to plant – Rs. 2,08,522/- -For the benefit of guests and not for employees. No employer employee relationship. Not liable to FBT. – Refer CBDT Circular No. 8/2005 dated
29.08.2005 – FAQ-1

b. Vehicle hire charges for senior staff from their residence to place of work i.e, plant at Champa and back – Rs. 11,14,721/-. Not liable to FBT. – Refer CBDT Circular No. 8/2005 dated 29.08.2005 – FAQ-104

c. Insurance, registration, accessories and other charges – Rs. 1,12,780/-

d. EMI of car taken on loan for three employees – Rs. 1,85,376/- (includes interest of Rs. 55,000/-). – Not covered under section 115WB(2)H, hence not liable to FBT- Brihan Maharashtra Sugar Syndicate Ltd. (15 taxmann.com 300) – ITAT Pune.

III Staff Welfare expenses In respect of Medical expense – Submissions filed before CIT (A) are at page 11-12 of the PB. In respect of Refreshments – Submissions filed before CIT(A) are at page 12 and 13 of the PB.
2. Medical expenses -Medical expenses incurred as reimbursement to the employees on presentation of bills 4,65,286 Details at: page 26 – Rs. 2,94,430/- (Pithampura) page 34-35 – Rs. 60,092/- (Rayya) page 36-38 – Rs. 1,10,764/-
(Uttranchal) Reimbursement of medical expenses is a perquisite under section 17 and therefore, not liable to FBT- section 115WB(3). Wipro Ltd. (58 taxmann.com 220)- ITAT Bangalore
3. Refreshments in office/factory at Raipur (Rolling Mill Division) during overtime – 1,05,987 Details at page 24 of the PB. The expenses were incurred in respect of food and beverages for the workers working at production division. As per Section 115WB(2)(B)(i) any expenditure incurred by the employer on payment of food or beverages provided to his employees does not within the purview of FBT. – Refer CBDT Circular No. 8/2005 dated
29.08.2005 – FAQ-52
IV Pre- operative expenses Submissions filed before CIT (A) are at page 14 of the PB.
 

 

Staff welfare – food and beverages 1,82,455

 

Details are at pages 94-102 of the PB. Expenditure were incurred for providing food and beverages to the staff working at Steel division. As per Section 115WB(2)(B)(i) any expenditure incurred by the employer on payment of food or beverages
provided to his employees does not within the purview of FBT. – Refer CBDT Circular No. 8/2005 dated 29.08.2005 – FAQ-52
Total expenses 27,80,802
Value of FBT @20% 5,56,161

6. Before us, the ld. AR argued placed on the submissions made before the ld. CIT(A) and the ld. DR supported the order of the ld. CIT(A).

7. Heard the arguments of both the parties and perused the material available on record.

8. With the regard to the taxi higher charges, we find that these expenses were incurred for providing transport services at cruising division at interior of Orissa where there was no connectivity with the public transport. Similarly the expenses incurred on taxi higher charges were incurred on account of non employers of the assessee company and an amount of Rs. 25,500/- was incurred not on account of conveyance but on account of tour & travel. Further, the vehicle higher charges of sponge Iron division were incurred for the purpose of guest but not for employees. These expenses also include medical expenses reimbursed of Rs. 4.65 lakhs and refreshment of Rs. 2.87 lakhs. Hence keeping in view CBDT Circular No. 8/2005 dated 29.08.2005 and judgments of Co-ordinate Bench of the ITAT Bangalore in the case of Wipro Ltd. (58 taxmann.com 220)- ITAT with regard to the medical expenses and order of the Co-ordinate Bench of the ITAT Pune in the case of Brihan Maharashtra Sugar Syndicate Ltd. (15 taxmann.com 300) with regard to loan given to the employees, we hold that no further addition other than the amount of Rs. 113,86,653/- is liable to be computed in respect of Fringe Benefit Tax(FBT).

9. In the result, the appeal of the assessee is allowed.

Order Pronounced in the Open Court on 05/01/2024.

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