1 Sections 153 and 153B of the Income-tax Act, inter alia, provide the time limit for completion of assessment and reassessment of income by the Assessing Officer. Time limits have been provided for completion of assessment or reassessment under sections 143(3), 147, 153A, 153C etc. of the Income-tax Act. These time limits get extended if a reference is made under section 92CA of the Income-tax Act to the Transfer Pricing Officer (TPO) during the course of assessment/reassessment proceedings. These time limits are either from the end of financial year in which notice for initiation of the proceeding was served or from the end of the assessment year to which the proceedings relate.
2 Vide Finance Act, 2012 the period of limitation as provided in sections 153 and 153B of the Income-tax Act was extended by three months. In all the cases where reference under section 92CA of the Income-tax Act was made to the Transfer Pricing Officer the period of limitation was extended to one year from the existing 9 months. Similar amendments were made in other parts of section 153 and section 153B of the Income-tax Act wherever reference of section 92CA was made.
3 As a result of insertion of 3rd proviso in sub-section (1) of section 153 an anomaly arose. In a case relating to assessment year 2009-10, where a reference was made under section 92CA of the Income-tax Act and the TPO passed the order before 01.07.2012, it could not get covered by the 3rd proviso which was inserted vide Finance Act 2012. Further, it could not get covered by 2nd proviso either. Therefore, it found a place only in 153(1) (a) as per which the time limit would be two years from the end of assessment year i.e. upto 31.03.2012. Therefore, it did not get the benefit of one extra year as was intended. Further, before amendments vide Finance Act 2012 this case would have been covered under 2nd proviso and the time limit for completion would have been 31-12-2012 (33 months). Thus, with the insertion of 3rd proviso vide Finance Act 2012 the time limit got reduced from 31-12-2012 to 31-03-2012. This was not the intent of the legislature.
4 In view of the above, the provisions of 3rd proviso to sub-section (1) of section 153 of the Income-tax Act have been amended to provide that in case the assessment year in which the income was first assessable is the assessment year commencing on the 1st day of April, 2009 or any subsequent assessment year and during the course of the proceeding for the assessment of total income, a reference under sub-section (1) of section 92CA of the Income-tax Act is made, the provisions of clause (a) shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the first proviso, have effect as if for the words ‘two years’, the words “three years” had been substituted.”
5 Similar amendments have been made in sub-section (2), sub-section (2A) of section 153 and section 153B of the Income-tax Act where similar anomaly arose due to amendments carried out vide Finance Act, 2012 in the said sections.
6 Applicability: – The amendments take effect retrospectively from 1st July, 2012.