Hathway Investments Pvt. Ltd vs. ACIT (ITAT Mumbai) The assessee, an investment company, bought electric meters from the Gujarat State Electricity Board (GSEB) which were leased back to GSEB simultaneously. The assessee claimed 100% depreciation on the purchase cost of the meters. The AO and CIT(A) rejected the claim on the ground that the circumstances like no physical possession of the meters given etc showed that the transaction of ‘sale and lease-back’ was a “sham” and that it was one merely of giving finance and that the assets were held as a security for the finance given. On appeal by the assessee to the Tribunal HELD: A distinction between an ‘operating lease’ and a ‘finance lease’ has been made by the Special Bench inIndusInd Bank 135 ITD 165 (Mum) (SB) on the basis of which it can be said that a ‘finance lease’ is a ‘sale’ which is given the colour of a ‘lease’ by the parties for their mutual benefit and to avoid tax. In such transactions, it has to be seen whether the sale transaction is a real transaction or a sham transaction with the object of enabling the alleged purchaser to claim himself as the owner of the goods, which are further claimed to be leased back to the original owner of the goods. In a sham transaction of sale and lease back the ownership of the goods is not transferred to the alleged lessor, but is shown to be done, so as to enable the purchaser to claim ownership for the goods for the purpose of tax relief. On facts, the ‘sale and lease back’ transaction is a sham transaction done with the object to facilitate the benefits of depreciation to a person who otherwise is not eligible to claim the same. The intention of the parties was not that of sale or lease but was a loan transaction. The rates of interest/ rental have been fixed taking into consideration that the equipments are eligible for 100% depreciation and it is provided that if the claim of depreciation is changed, the rental in the shape of interest will accordingly change. Such clauses cannot be a part of any lease agreement but finance agreement only because in a normal lease agreement, the lessee is not concerned as to what benefits are available to the owner/ lessor under the Income-tax Act. The contention that as the transaction is with a State Government undertaking, it would be highly improper to impute any collusiveness or colourable nature of the transaction is misconceived. The argument that there is no bar for the assessee for making tax planning so as to reduce its taxes, provided it is within the framework of the law, is also not acceptable as u/s 23 of the Indian Contract Act, even if the consideration or object of an agreement may not be expressly forbidden by law, but if it is of such a nature that, if permitted, it would defeat the provisions of law, the same will not […]

Sale & Leaseback transactions are collusive & tax evasive tools – Mum ITAT

India Capital Markets (P) Ltd v DCIT IT Appeal No. 2948 (Mum.) of 2010 dtd December 12, 2012 (Mum ITAT) Background: Assessee is a share broker and the main source of income is generated through brokerage. During the year, the assessee has purchased entire clientele business of M/s. Ashmavir Financial Consultants Pvt. Ltd. (AFC) by assigning all clients to the assessee for a consideration of Rs. 2.50 crores . Assessee booked these expenses as purchase of goodwill and has claimed 25% of depreciation amounting to Rs. 62,50,000 thereon. After considering the provisions of section 32, AO was of the opinion that in the said provision, it is apparently clear that goodwill as such does not find any reference and accordingly, disallowed the claim of depreciation on account of goodwill at Rs. 62,50,000. 

Purchase of clientele data is intangible/ goodwill eligible for depreciation – Mum ITAT

CIT v Smifs Securities Limited [2012] 24 222 (SC) Background: In accordance with Scheme of Amalgamation of YSN Shares & Securities (P) Ltd with Smifs Securities Ltd (duly sanctioned by Hon’ble High Courts of Bombay and Calcutta) with retrospective efect from 1st April, 1998, assets and liabilities of YSN Shares & Securities (P) Ltd were transferred to and vest in the company. In the process goodwill has arisen in the books of the company. The assessee claimed that the extra consideration over the value of net assets acquired of YSN Shares and Securities Private Limited [Amalgamating Company] was paid towards the reputation which the Amalgamating Company was enjoying in order to retain its existing clientele. The Assessing Officer held that goodwill was not an asset falling under Explanation 3 to Section 32(1) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. CIT(A) came to a conclusion that the assessee in the process of amalgamation had acquired a capital right in the form of goodwill because of which the market worth of the assessee stood increased. This finding was also been upheld by Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.

Goodwill is an intangible asset eligible for depreciation – Supreme Court

DCIT v Prithvi Prakashan (P.) Ltd. IT Appeal NO. 5189 (MUM.) OF 2006 (Mumbai ITAT) Background: The assessee had purchased 17 Iron Rolls used in Steel Industries from M/s. Indore Steel & Iron Mills Ltd. (ISIM) for a sum of Rs. 34,97,500/- on 25.3.1993. These rolls had been purchased by ISIM for a sum of Rs. 36,88,540/- in 1991. The assessee vide lease agreement dated 27.3.1993 had leased these rolls to ISIM for a period of three years commencing from 27.3.1993. At the time of original assessment dated, the AO noted that there was no physical movement of iron rolls which remained with ISIM. No physical possession was handed over by ISIM to the assessee. Further, prior to the purchase by the assessee these were heavily depreciated due to use by ISIM. The assessee had claimed depreciation of Rs. 17,48,750/- @ 50% of the normal rate for 100% of depreciation The AO held that it was a case of simple loan transaction which had been given the colour of lease transaction to reduce tax liability of the assessee. In appeal, the CIT(A) allowed claim of depreciation in order dated 28.6.1996. In further appeal, the Tribunal in the order dated 30.1.2004 in ITA No. 5840/Mum/2006 noted that the authorities below did not examine as to what happened to the leased assets on expiry of lease period and therefore, set aside the order of CIT(A) and restored the matter to the file of AO for passing a fresh order.

Mumbai ITAT lays down tests for determining whether sale & leaseback is a sham transaction!

Prakash Leasing Ltd v DCIT [IT APPEAL NO.2557 OF 2005] (Karnataka HC) Background: The assessee company is engaged in the business of finance and leasing. During the year under consideration, the assessee company had purchased vehicles and had leased out the same. Assessing Authority was of the view that if the vehicles were purchased by this alleged lessees, the ownership of the vehicles lies only with them and not with the assessee company. Relying on the statements of 35 persons, the truck drivers, it was held that they have purchased the vehicles under the financial assistance from the assessee and therefore, the assessee is not the owner of the 36 motor vehicles owned and therefore, he is not entitled to depreciation. Similarly, 26 persons to whom summons had been issued did not turn up. Therefore, the Assessing Authority disallowed the depreciation claimed on these vehicles allegedly leased to the 26 persons. 

Lessor is entitled to depreciation even if lessees use the assets in their business – ...

Prakash Leasing Ltd v DCIT [ITA Nos 301,302 & 491 OF 2007] (Karnataka High Court) Background: The assessee was a non-banking financial company. The assessee received a sum of Rs. 11.84 crores as the lease rentals. The assessee had deducted a sum of Rs. 4.35 crores representing the lease equalization account from lease rentals of Rs. 11.84 crores. It contended that the lease equalization charges should not be added as income. The assessing authority disallowed the said claim on the ground that the same was neither a liability, nor an allowance and nor an expenditure. He held that same was just a matching entry for the purpose of tallying the accounts with regard to the assets leased out. He was also of the opinion that the said claim was made for the first time during the year and also that the depreciation was provided in the books and the lease income was recognized.

Lease Equalisation Charges – Accounting standards of ICAI to be followed – Karnataka HC

DCIT Vs M/s Coromandal Bio Tech Industries (I) Ltd [ITA No.287/Hyd/2007] Hyderabad ITAT Facts of the case The Assessee company for the AY 2001-02 and 2002-03, filed its return of income declaring loss after claiming depreciation on Ponds and Plant & Machinery business of which is discontinued long back. The Assessing Officer observed that the claim of depreciation was not proper and the assessment was reopened u/s 147. In the reassessment, the AO disallowed and added back the depreciation on ponds and plant & machinery. Similarly, for the AY 2003-04 and 2004-05, on the grounds the business of prawn and shrimp farming had been apparently discontinued, the AO held that the assets were not put to use and the assessee was not entitled to depreciation on ponds and plant & machinery.

Depreciation allowable even on assets of discontinued business – Hyderabad ITAT

DCIT v WEIZMANN FOREX LTD ITA No.3571/Mum/2011 (Mum ITAT) Assessee Company is engaged in the business of dealing in foreign exchange, money transfer and wind power generation. During the year under consideration, the assessee company had acquired franchise from AFL Pvt Ltd (ALF) – filed its ROI claiming depreciation on franchise rights. During the course of assessment proceedings the AO took a view that depreciation was not available on such things – Aggrieved with the order of the AO assessee contended the issue before the CIT(A) who after analyzing the agreement of franchise allowed the appeal of the assessee. Held that:  

Wear & tear is not an essential condition for depreciation on intangible assets

CIT vs. The Instalment Supply Ltd (Delhi High Court) The assessee bought 1614 items of computer systems for Rs.40 lacs from HCL Hewlett Packard Ltd and leased back to the same company. The assessee claimed 100% depreciation on the ground that the cost of each itemswas less than Rs.5,000. The AO & CIT (A) held that the lease was not a bona fide transaction and that the transaction was a finance transaction. It was held that the assessee had advanced Rs.40 lacs to HCL Hewlett Packard Ltd and agreed to receive back this amount along with the interest over six years. However, the Tribunal upheld the claim on the ground that the conditions of a valid lease were satisfied. On appeal by the department to the High Court,

Difference between Finance Lease and Operating Lease