Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) Delhi recently made a crucial decision in the case involving Tripoto Travel Private Limited and the Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax (ACIT). The case pertained to the disallowance made towards the delayed payment of employee contributions to the Provident Fund (PF) and Employee State Insurance (ESI).
Tripoto, an online platform providing travel-related services, had filed for an appeal against the disallowance. The primary contention was that the ACIT had erred in the calculation of the dates, which led to the disallowance of Rs. 6,50,936, the sum of the employees’ contributions towards the PF and ESI that were deposited late.
The ITAT noted that the disallowance was made on the basis of certain inaccurate data regarding the dates of the deposits. Tripoto claimed that it had deposited the employees’ contribution of PF amounting to Rs. 1,56,185 before the due date and Rs. 5,09,839 after the due dates prescribed under the relevant statute. However, the Assessing Officer had added the total amount of Rs. 6,50,936 as a disallowance, neglecting to consider the discrepancy in the dates.
Taking into account the factual inconsistencies and the written submission of Tripoto, the ITAT ruled to send the case back to the Assessing Officer for re-adjudication. The officer was directed to verify the actual payment dates with the deposit challans for the disputed contributions. The re-adjudication was to be done in accordance with the law and the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Chekmate Services Pvt. Ltd.
FULL TEXT OF THE ORDER OF ITAT DELHI
This appeal filed by the assessee is against the order of learned Commissioner of Income-Tax (Appeals)-9, Delhi vide Appeal No.10495/2019-20 dated 31.07.2020 against the order of ACIT, Circle 25(2), Delhi u/s. 143(3) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”), dated 23.12.2019 for AY 2017-18.
2. There is a delay of 28 days in filing the present appeal. The impugned order by learned Commissioner of Income-Tax(Appeals) is dated 31.07.2020 which is claimed to have been received on 31.07.2020. The said period for filing the present appeal falls during the pandemic of COVID-19 for which Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of suo moto writ petition (C) No.3 of 2020 dated 10.01.2022 has excluded the period from 15.03.2020 to 28.02.2022 for the purpose of taking into account limitation. Vide this order, a further period of 90 days has been granted for providing the limitation from 01.03.2022. Accordingly considering the said decision and fact of the case, the delay is condoned and the appeal is admitted for adjudication.
2.1 The sole issue raised by the assessee in the present appeal is in respect of disallowance made towards delayed payment of employees contribution toward Provident Fund (PF) and Employees State Insurance (ESI) of Rs.6,50,936. Before us, none represented the assessee and Shri Ram Dhan Meena, Sr. DR represented the department. From the perusal of record, we note that assessee has furnished written submission dated 17.04.2023. In the said submission, it is stated that assessee does not want to appear further in the impugned matter and requested the Tribunal to decide the case on the basis of facts and merits of the case by considering the said written submissions. Accordingly, we take up the matter for adjudication.
3. Assessee is engaged in the business of providing online platform under the domain name www.tripoto.com to share and discover travel stories and itineraries and related business opportunities. Assessee filed its return of income on 26.10.2017 reporting a total loss of Rs.4,35,89,518. In the course of assessment, learned Assessing Officer noted that assessee has deposited employees contribution to PF and ESI beyond the due date specified in the relevant statutes amounting to Rs.6,50,936. He, thus, disallowed it and added to the total income of the assessee. Aggrieved, assessee went in appeal before the learned Commissioner of Income-Tax (Appeals) who confirmed the addition so made. Aggrieved, assessee is in appeal before the Tribunal.
4. Before us, it is submitted that there are mistakes in the dates which have been taken into consideration leading to the disallowance in respect of the employees’ contribution towards Provident Fund. According to the assessee, the dates mentioned are evidently verifiable from the challans for the deposit of the impugned contribution.
5. We note from the facts on record that the disallowance has been made on the basis of certain mistaken data taken into consideration in respect of dates of deposits. Before us, in the written submission, the assessee claims that it has deposited the employees contribution of PF of Rs.1,56,185 before the due date of deposits and Rs.5,09,839 after the due dates of deposits prescribed under the relevant statute. Against this, learned Assessing Officer made an addition of the whole amount of Rs.6,50,936. It is claimed that the learned Assessing Officer has not considered the facts correctly.
6. Considering the facts on record and the written submission of the assessee, we find it proper to remit the matter back to the file of Ld. AO for verification of actual payment dates with the challans for deposit of the impugned contribution in respect of which disallowance has been made. Ld. AO may verify the same and consider the allowance in accordance with the provisions of law as well as taking into consideration the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Chekmate Services Pvt. Ltd.  143 com 178(SC). Learned Sr. DR did not raise any objection to this effect. Accordingly, ground taken by the assessee in this respect is allowed for statistical purposes.
7. In the result, appeal of the assessee is allowed for statistical purposes.
Order pronounced in the open court on 03.07.2023.