Section 234C – Shortfall in payment of advance tax on account of impossibility to estimate income – Assessee not liable to pay interest.

Kumari Kumar Advani vs. Asstt. CIT (Mum) Members: G.S.Pannu (A. M.) and Ram Lal Negi (J. M.) ITA No.: 7661 /MUM/2013 A.Y.: 2012-13.

The assessee, an individual, had filed her return of declaring income of Rs. 13.91 crore. While processing such return u/s. 143(1), interest u/s. 234C of the Act was levied on account of shortfall in payment of advance tax on first and second installments, due on 15/09/2011 and 15/12/2011, in respect of gift of Rs.10.00 crores claimed to have been received on 17/12/2011. On such deferment in payment of instalments, interest of Rs.7.66 lakh was charged. On appeal, the levy was confirmed by the CIT(A).

Before the Tribunal, the assessee argued that the income in question, namely gift of Rs.10.00 crore received on 17/12/2011 was in the nature of a windfall gain and, therefore, it was not possible for the assessee to estimate its accrual or receipt at any time when the payment for first and second installments of advance tax were due. However, the revenue justified the orders of the lower authorities on the ground that the charging of interest u/s. 234C of the Act was mandatory in nature and relied on the judgment of the Delhi High Court in the case of Bill and Peggy Marketing India Pvt. Ltd. vs. ACIT (350 ITR 465).

The Tribunal noted that section 209 provides the computational mechanism of calculating advance tax to be paid. According to it, section 209 envisages calculation of advance tax based on the ‘estimate of current income’. A reading of section 209 would reveal that in order to calculate the amount of advance tax payable, an assessee is liable to estimate his income. Considered in this light, the facts of the present case clearly show that the gift of Rs. 10 crore, which has been received by the assessee on 17/12/2011 could not have been foreseen by the assessee so as to enable him to estimate such income for the purpose of payment of advance tax on an anterior date viz., 15/09/2011 or 15/12/2011. In such a situation, according to the Tribunal, the decision of the Hyderabad Bench of the Tribunal in the case of ACIT vs. Jindal Irrigation Systems Ltd. (56 ITD 164) relied upon by the assessee clearly militates against charging of interest u/s. 234C. As per the Hyderabad Bench of the Tribunal, an assessee could not be defaulted for a duty, which was impossible to be performed. To the similar effect is the decision of the Chennai Bench of the Tribunal in the case of Express Newspaper Ltd (103 TTJ 122). Therefore, the Tribunal held that the levy of interest u/s. 234C was untenable.